I was proud today to join veterans and others in Gloucester to mark a very special Remembrance Sunday, the centenary of the end of World War One. There was such an excellent turn out at Gloucester War memorial, for the march through the city, and at the Cathedral service showing how much this city cares about remembering the victims of war and supporting working towards a peaceful world.
Our brave veterans and their families have much to be proud of too, and we owe them security and dignity once their time in service ends.
That’s why I am delighted that Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, has pledged that the next Labour government will give veterans this security and dignity, providing access to housing, mental health support and retraining.
“On Remembrance Sunday, we commemorate all those killed in war as we strive for a world of peace. We must also think of our veterans and the shocking lack of support far too many receive.
“Let today spur us into action, to give our veterans the security and support they deserve with a new social contract for veterans.”
The next Labour government will guarantee armed forces personnel the opportunity to have a home, to heal and to retrain when they complete their time in service.
It is distressing that there are around 13,000 homeless veterans, that around 6% of veterans suffer with PTSD, that there are around 500 veterans with PTSD in our prisons, and that around 50 serving or retired soldiers have taken their own lives so far this year. We must act to change veterans’ lives for the better.
Labour’s social contract for veterans includes:
- Ending the scourge of veterans sleeping rough on our streets with homes reserved for people with a history of rough sleeping
- Free education and training through the National Education Service
- New career opportunities through Increased apprenticeship numbers
- Mental health issues, like PTSD, treated as seriously as physical health issues
With the Government’s Veterans Strategy due to be published this month, Labour is also calling on the Government to:
- Officially register the number of homeless veterans
- Officially log numbers of veterans who commit suicide
- Prioritise the mental health of veterans
- Do more to help veterans start new careers through improved access to education and training
In spite of the best efforts of many of those working in the sector, too many veterans are still not getting the support that they need.
The Government’s long overdue Veterans Strategy needs to be far reaching and properly funded. It must strengthen the transition phases and implement proper joined up thinking to ensure that no veteran who needs support falls through the net.
And it needs to put in the funding so that local councils and health providers can implement the Armed Forces Covenant consistently and effectively, to ensure that veterans get the employment, housing and health support that they are entitled to.