City MP makes impassioned plea for city to support veterans

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Portsmouth South MP urges those in the city to work together to support veterans and uphold the armed forces covenant.

Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South has urged those in the city to continue to work together to support veterans in a passionate speech made at Portsmouth’s Council meeting yesterday.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Our nation’s veterans are without doubt exceptional men and women who have loyally served their country, committed to excellence, duty, and public service.

“They have done so often in hostile and challenging environments, demonstrating selfless sacrifice and bravery, and, in many cases, suffering serious injuries.

“Yet despite this, when choosing to finish their service in the military, veterans often find the transition back to civilian life fraught with uncertainty and extremely stressful”

The speech follows a call to the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson last month urging the Government to do more to give the armed forces covenant – a document with a commitment to support servicing and ex-serving personnel – more “teeth”.

Mr Morgan added:

The covenant has undoubtedly made a positive difference to service personnel and their families and marks an incredibly important commitment to countless brave men and women in our nation.

“Yet in 2018, I fear that in too many instances this commitment is still not being met, and as research tells us 1 in 5 veterans are surviving on less that’s £7,500 each year and 70% say their abilities are not truly valued by employers. Surveys also tell us that 62% of our veterans feel undervalued by society.

“The jump to civilian life is still consistently underestimated and too many businesses remain ill-equipped to help breach this significant gap and unlock incredible potential and unique skills of former service men and women”.

The City MP is working with local charities and groups to enhance the support available locally. On this, Mr Morgan said:

We need better mentoring schemes, training not just for veterans but employers, increased investment to reduce unacceptable waiting times for specialised mental health treatment, and extended transition periods to ease the move into civilian life. Without these we run the risk of the covenant being confined to the symbolic. 

“This isn’t a job for one single champion. It is everyone’s task. By working together we can really make a difference, helping service veterans reintegrate, not only back into civilian employment, but also back into wider society.

“As a city we should never cease in telling our veterans how proud they make us and immensely valued they are, but there is clearly an urgent need to show them too.”