Over the past few years, improvements have been made to how Veterans are treated and the support they receive, but we know more can certainly be done. Today, The Sun, with support from Help for Heroes, has launched a challenge calling on Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt – the two candidates for Prime Minister – to show their commitment to Veterans and their families by pledging to fulfil the ‘Veterans Pledge’ when one of them enters Number 10 Downing Street.
The Veterans Pledge involves promising to do three things:
- Create an Office of Veterans Affairs within the Cabinet Office, run by a minister who attends Cabinet, to coordinate all functions of Government concerning Veterans to ensure the world-class care and support that they deserve is provided to all our former Armed Forces personnel.
- Enshrine the Military Covenant into law, to ensure no Veteran or their family faces any disadvantage because of their service, and the injured and bereaved are given special attention.
- Introduce a law to better protect our Servicemen and women, and Veterans from vexatious investigations into historical allegations of misconduct while on duty.
The Office of Veterans Affairs would ensure all Government departments are issuing policies which recognise their responsibility to Veterans. On the Armed Forces Covenant, we know it needs to be strengthened to ensure it actually benefits all members of the Armed Forces Community. While the principles of the Covenant were enshrined in law in 2011, there are no consequences should the spirit of the Covenant be disregarded. We believe this needs to change.
And finally, on the issue of protecting Veterans from prosecution, it’s important to note that we are not calling for blanket immunity. The proper process must take place where there is evidence of wrongdoing – soldiers are not above the law. But it’s worrying that the Government continues to allow Veterans – some in their 70s and 80s – to have the threat of prosecution hanging over their heads years after being cleared of any wrongdoing. We cannot continue to allow them to be investigated over and over again where no new evidence has come to light.
We know improvements have been made in recent years to how Veterans are treated, but more can certainly be done, and this pledge would ensure the next Prime Minister shows their commitment to our Veterans.
“We have supported over 22,000 wounded military personnel and their families so far and the need is growing, which is why we are calling on the leadership candidates to sign up to the Veterans’ Pledge. Many wounded Veterans feel let down by the system and we know more needs to be done by the Government to ensure our heroes get the fair deal they deserve.” – Melanie Waters, Help for Heroes CEO