Since 2007, Help for Heroes has directly supported almost 25,000 Veterans and Serving Personnel who have suffered injuries or illness as a result of their service to the Nation. As of 31st March 2018, there are 9,987 injured Veterans and current members of the Armed Forces in Northern Ireland who are eligible for our support.
We are aware of the issues in Northern Ireland around the implementation of the Armed Forces Covenant, and we are pressing the Government to work with us to ensure the needs of Veterans in Northern Ireland are met.
We have recently been raising concerns affecting wounded Veterans in particular.
For years, Veterans in need of routine hip, knee and back surgery were granted permission from the administration to get their treatment in England (paid for by Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland). However, in the absence of a government minister to facilitate this, over a dozen Veterans living in Northern Ireland are now not able to get the surgery they need.
The simple solution we are proposing is to temporarily allow a GP to sign off on this cross-border treatment.
Our CEO, Mel Waters OBE, has written to the relevant Government Ministers to seek their support for this. Commenting on the Armed Forces Covenant in Northern Ireland, she said: “The Armed Forces Covenant is intended to ensure Veterans are not disadvantaged by their Service, but in Northern Ireland it is meaningless and many are not getting the support they need. If Section 75 is impeding the Covenant from working, the Government must find a way to ensure the needs of wounded Veterans in Northern Ireland are met.”