The Leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt MP, told Portsmouth veterans she would support our policy call for an independent review into the Armed Forces medical discharge process.
Ms Mordaunt met veterans at a veterans coffee morning, at the Harvester, Great Salterns Mansion, in her Portsmouth North constituency, to hear their experiences and the issues they face.
While she was initially diaried to spend an hour with veterans, Ms Mordaunt stayed close to two hours. She listened intently – and spoke authoritatively – as the veterans, ranging in age between 35 and 57, spoke on subjects as diverse as their own experiences, the role of charities in supporting former members of the Armed Forces, and former Secretary of State Matt Hancock’s appearance in TV’s Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins.
When asked if she would support the call for a review, Ms Mordaunt answered an unequivocal “Yes, certainly”.
Speaking about the morning’s gathering, she said: “It’s really helpful for me to hear from veterans about their experience of local services; doubly interesting to hear from somebody who works in some of those services, like healthcare, and their ideas on how it can be made better.
“Also, just to be able to say to people and speak to them about the benefits of contacting your local MP, whether you’re having difficulty accessing healthcare or sorting your pension out, all that sort of stuff, MPs’ offices can help. It’s also very helpful to the MP to see where stuff isn’t working in the system.
“It’s a double reason to contact your local MP – you help yourself, but you’ll also be helping that MP sort stuff out for others, as well."
As a former Royal Naval Reservist, of nine years, she was also clearly happy and comfortable to be back in the company of fellow veterans.
She added: “It’s great. One of the wonderful things about representing the seat I do, in Portsmouth North, is that we have a really amazing veteran community here. They’re focussed on helping each other out and also focussed on helping out their local community. It’s a special place and it’s been great to catch up with a few of them today.”
Former sailor, Barry Lawson, 39, originally from Glasgow but now living in Portsmouth, said: “It was very beneficial, largely down to the fact I was able to get my experiences to a member of parliament who actually has some sway.
“It wasn't a situation where she was giving lip service, she was actually interested in the issues we had to discuss. I know she will go away and look to help veterans in the future.”