(Excerpt from article written in ‘The Independent’ December 2014)
Government is “disconnected from the reality” of life faced by the country’s most vulnerable veterans, the head of a leading military charity has said.
Dr Hugh Milroy, the CEO of Veterans Aid, which works to combat homelessness among the UK’s ex-servicemen and women, was responding to the annual Ministry of Defence report on the Armed Forces Covenant, the promise of care for Britain’s troops enshrined in law by David Cameron three years ago.
The Prime Minister first announced his support for the principles of the Covenant to be written into law while on board the HMS Ark Royal in 2010 and has continued to trumpet its progress since the Armed Forces Act came into force the following year.
But Dr Milroy likened the latest report on the Covenant, published on Tuesday, to “a pat on the head from a vaguely connected relative” which left him feeling “completely underwhelmed”.
“From a Veterans Aid perspective, the report seems disconnected from the reality of the lives of those veterans in crisis we see on a daily basis,” he said. “The Covenant must be for the good of the veterans in every community, throughout the land – not the greater good of organisations, including Parliament.
“In its current form the Covenant did not significantly improve the lives of the many veterans who approached us for help last year. Speaking as a veteran… I find myself completely underwhelmed. It feels like a pat on the head from a vaguely connected relative leaving the question ‘So what?’ hanging in the air.”
Veterans Aid is one of two charities being supported by The Independent’s Christmas appeal. Last year it saw 500 people at its drop-in centre in central London and provided 21,300 nights of accommodation for veterans. It believes that without its help, some of its most vulnerable clients would be dead within five years.
Any chance of revised pre-election budgetary provision for them Chancellor?