New research from the Royal Air Forces Association shows that less than one in five (19%) adults think UK military veterans are well looked after.
This figure does fluctuate across different age groups, but remains worryingly low throughout – it is lowest (9%) among respondents aged 65+, while people aged 25-34 had most confidence (32%) that veterans are well looked after.
Other research focused on the public’s awareness of and exposure to various social issues. While 40% of respondents have definitely seen, read or heard something about mental health issues among veterans in the past three months, the charity is concerned that less than a quarter (23%) of the population say this about the issue of loneliness among armed forces veterans.
With over half of the UK Armed Forces veteran population aged 75 or over, relationship/isolation issues affect approximately 170,000 RAF veterans, with 85,000 of them specifically experiencing loneliness.
To combat these concerns, the RAF Association introduced a befriending service to provide much-needed support and companionship to the thousands of RAF veterans experiencing social isolation across the UK. It pairs a veteran with one of the Association’s trained volunteers for a visit and chat, giving veterans the chance to share their RAF experiences and to ensure that no veteran will be forgotten.
Rory O’Connor, Director of Welfare and Policy at the Royal Air Forces Association, said:
“Our research shows that while the public are understandably concerned about veteran care in this country, the issue of loneliness seems to be less well known. Both are critical issues to the Royal Air Forces Association, and this service will ensure that more is done across the board to support our service men and women.
“The befriending service is an important initiative which provides invaluable welfare support for the 1.5 million strong RAF family. If you or someone you may know could benefit from befriending, we’d encourage you to get in touch with us as no veteran should ever feel lonely or isolated. A veteran’s service should be shared, celebrated, and never forgotten.”
Those who could benefit from this scheme can call 0800 0182 361 or visit www.rafa.org.uk/befriending
 npfSynergy survey, 1,000 UK adults (16+) – data collected October 2016
 Veteran statistics from Ministry of Defence, Annual Population Survey: UK Armed Forces Veterans residing in Great Britain
 Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, Meeting the Needs of the RAF Family, 2015