New programmes to make better use of the unique skills and experience of military veterans, including as prison officers and the uniformed and health services, have been launched today.
The programmes are part of the Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan, which will launch a range of measures today to make the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran.
The plan has more than 60 commitments, totalling more than £70 million from across government, to increase employment, step up health and wellbeing services and improve data and understanding of the veteran community.
A new recruitment scheme will be launched to fast track veterans into prison officer roles in around 50 prisons in England and Wales.
Departments, including the Home Office, DWP and NHS England will also collaborate to step up veterans going into blue light roles and the health service. This will be done through the “Step into Health” scheme in the NHS and a formal network of leads between MOD, DWP and uniformed services to share best practice.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay said:
“Veterans make a fantastic contribution to society and the measures announced today will help even more ex-service personnel realise their potential.
“Whether it’s more employment opportunities, better digital services and targeted support, all of government is working to make the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran.”
Ex-service personnel will also be targeted to go from ‘Troops to Teachers’ through a £40k training bursary to become a secondary school teacher. The scheme will also allow school students to benefit from the unique skills and insight a military career provides.
The Great Place to Work for Veterans initiative, which guarantees interviews for veterans in the Civil Service, will also be rolled out to every department.
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty said:
“The Veterans Strategy Action Plan will boost employment, modernise services and help us better understand the needs of the veteran community.
“Veterans already make a huge contribution to society and the plans outlined today step up our commitment to allowing them to live successful and healthy lives after service.”
Veterans will also benefit from a £44 million investment in digital services, with pensions and compensation schemes being fully digitised for the first time. This will help the 1.2 million pensions members and 30,000 annual compensation claimants access services more quickly and easily.
More than £20 million of additional funding will be invested in health services in England, bringing further improvements to veterans’ mental health services, also known as Op COURAGE, and to meet physical health needs via the Veterans Trauma Network. More NHS trusts and GP practices than ever before will become veteran-friendly accredited.
NHS Chief Executive Officer Amanda Pritchard said:
“Our Armed Forces personnel are an immense source of pride for our country but veterans and their families need access to NHS support that is considerate of their unique circumstances.
“In line with our long term plan, the NHS is investing an additional £18 million to make our health services more accessible and ensure GP surgeries and hospitals are even more veteran friendly so that veterans and their families get the services they need, closer to home, which we know they want.”
The Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan launched today covers three key areas:
- 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
- Transforming services for veterans – with a range of measures boosting employment, increasing funding for mental health services and developing skills
- 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
Top commitments in the Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan include:
Employment and skills
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 22023/24.
Opportunities for veterans to access a wider range of academic and vocational roles will be improved, through the Enhanced Learning Credit Scheme.
As well as £20 million in additional funding, the action plan will see 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.
Understanding 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 veterans 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.