Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, has used Armed Forces Day to highlight the need for greater support to the ex-service and veteran community across the nation.
Writing to the Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson MP Mr Morgan recognised the contribution the Armed Forces Covenant can play in supporting veterans.
In the letter sent today he writes:
“The Armed Forces Covenant has undoubtedly made a positive difference to service personnel and their families up and down our country. It marks an incredibly important commitment to countless brave men and women in my constituency.
However, this Armed Forces Day, I fear that in too many instances this commitment is not being met”.
Research published this week has shown that 1 in 5 veterans is surviving on less than £7,500 each year and 70% say their abilities are not truly valued by employers.
The jump to civilian life is still consistently underestimated and many businesses remain ill- equipped to help breach this significant gap and unlock the incredible potential and unique skills of former servicemen and women.
A survey by SSAFA has also found that 62% of our veterans feel undervalued by society. Furthermore, almost half, at times, have not felt proud of having served.
Mr Morgan added:
“We in Portsmouth are more than proud of them, and I’m extremely anxious for our national approach to post-service support to reflect that. It is welcome news that so many businesses and organisations have signed up to the covenant, but I would urge you to make this count.
The covenant needs teeth and for the Government to expand the scope of its practical elements.
Without its supplementation with a nationwide mentoring service, training not just for veterans but employers, increased investment to reduce unacceptable waiting times for specialised mental health treatment, an extended transition period, and proper enforcement, we risk the covenant’s value being confined to the symbolic”.
In his first year as Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South Stephen has been meeting with a number of local groups and charities which support the veterans community, as well as providing backing to projects which tackle issues ex-service personnel can face.
“I’m confident my city won’t cease in telling our veterans how proud they make us and how immensely valued they are, but there is clearly an urgent need to show them too”.