This week, the UK Government launched the Veterans' Strategy Action Plan - the Government's plan for supporting and empowering veterans. You can read the full plan here.
Of particular note, the plan commits to over £70M of spending on veterans, over 60 commitments and three areas of action on understanding the veteran community, transforming services for veterans and recognising the contribution of veterans to society. The overall goal is to make the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran by 2028.
Following my Parliamentary inquiry into the experiences of women in the Armed Forces and veterans, I am pleased to see particular attention being paid to the experiences of female veterans. As part of the plan, the Government commits to:
- Delivering health improvement programmes specific to female veterans.
- Commission qualitative research "to understand the circumstances where female veterans seek support".
- Providing £150k in grant funding to veterans charities to ensure that they are inclusive and accessible.
This focus on ensuring that the experiences of female veterans are understood and included with veterans' services shows how that the inquiry I chaired has had a real impact on how the Government views, accepts and supports female veterans.
Finally, the action plan also notes that, in Wales:
- The Welsh Government will continue to support the Veterans NHS Wales specialist mental healthcare service and Veterans Trauma Network (VTN) Wales service for veterans with complex physical injuries.
- The Welsh Government will review and publish a new Armed Forces Covenant, Healthcare Priority for Veterans Guidance, subject to UK developments including the Armed Forces Bill.
- The Welsh Government will work with Armed Forces Liaison Officers (AFLOs) and partners including regional suicide and self-harm prevention coordinators to promote mental health first aid training.
This is welcome news and I will work with Welsh Government Ministers to make sure these commitments are followed through. However, I have previously raised concerns about the disparity between veterans services in Wales and those in England, which is why I will continue to stand up for Welsh veterans to ensure parity of access to services throughout the UK.
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