Military to civilian transition process should be extended, review suggests

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A proposal to extend the transition process from military service to civilian life has been highlighted in a consultation on support for veterans in Scotland.

Following the launch of a joint veterans strategy by all four governments of the UK in November last year, the Scottish Government carried out a consultation on the services and support for veterans in Scotland.

The consultation involved direct engagement with around 60 veterans groups and organisations from across the country, with more than 450 people participating.

In a statement updating the Scottish Parliament on the process of the strategy on Wednesday, the Scottish Governments’s Veterans Minister Graeme Dey outlined some of the key issues that had been raised.

Mr Dey told MSPs that a significant level of feedback focused around the transition process for when people leave service in the military and re-enter civilian life.

He outlined that there had been calls for the process to begin earlier, as well as be broadened to cover a wider aspect of civilian life.

“The consultation indicates a largely positive position in Scotland in terms of how we support our veterans community,” said Mr Dey.

“Yes, there are areas where the need for improvements have been highlighted, but often this is a tailoring of approach, rather than a radical rethink.

“Interestingly, a large amount of the feedback from the consultation was around the transition process through which service leavers prepare for civilian life.

“Given the fundamental importance of a successful transition, if service personnel and their families are to adjust and thrive after life in the military, there were common views that the process needed to begin earlier, broaden the aspects of civilian life covered and have more consistent support from the military chain in command.”

“Although the transition process is reserved, the MoD are keen to hear what veterans in Scotland have been telling us and this is something that I will be discussing with the UK Government, including the Defence Secretary, when I attend the Ministerial Covenant and Veterans Board in Whitehall next month.”

Mr Dey said that the consultation had proved “invaluable” and provided some of the most comprehensive feedback on support for veterans in Scotland that had ever been gathered.

Amongst some of the other views which were contributed to the consultation, Mr Dey highlighted calls for a simplification of veterans’ access to information and guidance after they have left military service, while also outlining a suggestion for former servicemen and women to be included in the census.

“The feedback has also indicated a desire to simplify and improve the information and guidance that is available for veterans.” said Mr Dey.

“There’s undoubtedly a lot of excellent support available, but the range of options can be daunting for some and we’re exploring how we can make it easier for people to find the information that they need.

“Many of the organisations we spoke to highlighted the need to prioritise better data on veterans in order to inform plans and expected demand.

“There was a universal welcoming of a question in the 2021 census that will identify those who have previously served and although the final decision on this still remains for the Parliament, I’m grateful that colleagues across this chamber have indicated their support for this proposal.”

Mr Dey added that many of the other areas identified for improvement were already being addressed in response to previous reports by the Scottish Veterans Commissioner.

He concluded by stating that the feedback provided by the consultation had helped to outline the decision to create a Veterans Commissioner in the country.

Mr Dey said: “I have to say that the positive picture suggested by the consultation reinforces the value of the decision made by my predecessor, Keith Brown, to establish a Veterans Commissioner in Scotland – a role that remains the only such position in the UK.”

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