The Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan was launched on Wednesday 19 January by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Steven Barclay MP. The Action Plan introduces a range of measures to make the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran, and includes over 60 commitments that total more than £70 million from across government.
The Action Plan, which is underpinned by the Veterans’ Strategy launched in 2018, focuses on three key areas that seek to improve life for Veterans in the UK:
1. Understanding the veteran community – through stepped up research in areas such as housing, using the 2021 census data, and researching the experience of female veterans.
2. Transforming services for veterans – with a range of measures boosting employment, increasing funding for mental health services, and developing skills.
3. Recognising our veterans’ contribution to society – by launching an independent review of the impact of pre-2000 practices on LGBT veterans, promoting positive perceptions of veterans, and signposting ex-service personnel to support.
Key areas of additional and increased support for Veterans are highlighted throughout the Plan and include:
• Increasing employment opportunities in the public sector: Service leavers and veterans will receive stepped up promotion of opportunities to go into the uniformed and health services, including through more sharing of resources between departments and the creation of a formal network of local DWP leads to promote job opportunities to veterans. Veterans will also be encouraged into the teaching profession, through the Troops to Teachers scheme and Career Transition Partnership helping veterans use the Get School Experience service. Direct placements into the Civil Service of personnel leaving the military will also be started, with a target of 100 placements a year by 2023/24. Opportunities for veterans to access a wider range of academic and vocational roles will be improved, through the Enhanced Learning Credit Scheme.
• Stepping up health and wellbeing services: As well as £20 million in additional funding, the action plan promises that NHS England bringing the three bespoke veterans’ mental health services under the Op COURAGE umbrella into one long-term integrated service, making the system easier to navigate for veterans and their families. NHS England will also ensure that all primary care networks have a ‘Veteran Aware’ accredited GP practice and will look into having Veteran Aware staff in social care settings.
• Improving data and overall understanding of the veteran community: Following the first ever veterans’ question, which appeared in the 2021 census, analysis of the data from the census will be undertaken, to further understand the needs of the veteran’s community. Using this data, the government will publish official statistics on the frequency of suicide amongst veterans. Experts from academia and charities will be convened to understand the effect of the withdrawal from Afghanistan on veterans and their families. Better data on veterans who approach Local Authorities who are homeless, will be collected. Providing a digital ID for veterans, to verify their status, will also be scoped.
Following the launch, the COBSEO will take a lead and working with their internal cluster groups and member community to help the government turn these new initiatives into demonstrable and measurable plans of delivery, and ensuring that once the Action Plan takes shape, there are quantifiable measures of performance to assess the government’s progress in line with the stated commitments. This is an ambitious and positive plan, but it remains to be seen whether aspiration can be turned into actuality!
If you would like to read the plan Download a copy of the full Action Plan here.