Monday, 30 August 2010

Nothing in Life is Free

There's no such thing as a free lunch, or in this case a free train or bus ride.

Veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan will soon be able to travel free on rail and road public transport. The plan is part of a package being drawn up by the government to help retired military personnel settle back into Civvy Street.

Up to 70,000 ex-soldiers who served on the front line since 1990 will get free travel for at least 5 years. Other perks cover housing, education and mental health.

There will be:

Help to buy homes
Grants for university tuition fees
Opportunities to retrain as teachers
Extra help for families of serving soldiers
Free university scholarships for children of soldiers killed in action.

David Cameron is expected to announce the Veterans Package in October as part of the Strategic Defence Review. Many men and women who have been invalided out of the armed forces are already entitled to free transport.

The catch? In return for this former soldiers will be expected to stay longer on the Service Register - the list of personnel who can be recalled for service.

Quite a cunning political move. The MoD increases the size of the Service Register and will possibly decrease the numbers of those currently serving. The perks will last only up to 5 years; any longer and the personnel would require full retraining. The only problem I have is with the 'perks' not associated with free travel. Shouldn't we be providing these already?


Dioclese said...

I suppose it's a step in the right direction, but in my opinion could try harder?

Conan the Librarian™ said...

Bus passes.
The bane of frontline library staff in Edinburgh.
I spend more time on processing replacement cards for junkies than anything else.
Sorry, did I say junkies? I meant to say people with mental health problems.
And social workers.

It would be nice to see veterans with them...

Dramfineday said...

Too right we should, now let's get on with it. And a few other things beside.

(For our English readers) One thing tickles me (as in ANNOYS me) remember the old WW1 poster - "Your country needs you" (subtext, to fight, maybe to be maimed and often to die to keep us in our rightful place)? Well, bearing that poster in mind, I always found myself knashing my teeth when some twerp went out of their way to prevent anyone walking on (their bit of) your Green and pleasant land. When you think of the sacrifice of lives: Africa, WW1, Russia, Spain, WW2, Korea, Falklands, Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, and STILL you cannont walk on large tracts of England. I know things have improved over the years with bits and pieces of legislation but here's one crying out for a renegotiation of the covenant with the people and the ruling classes.

Why should I bother about England, coming from the land of the mist and the mountain where things are a bit different? Well if people are asked to die for their country, they should at least be allowed to walk on it and I happen to like walking about England!

Surreptitious Evil said...

"The only problem I have is with the 'perks' not associated with free travel. Shouldn't we be providing these already?"

We do, for the first two, at least. 3 and 5 are fine for some definition of "okay, I suppose" and 4, although welcome, is so vague to be almost a politician's promise.


Help to buy homes

Yes, you have the Armed Forces House Ownership Scheme, the resettlement grant for leavers who do not get an immediate pension and the in-service "Long Service Advance of Pay" scheme. The latter two have been in existence for decades ..

Grants for university tuition fees

Enhanced Learning Credits - up to £2000 per year / 80% of your course costs. Already available for up to 10 years after you've left, assuming you applied when you were still in.

I'll wait to see what 'new' comes out, rather than what 'news'. Oh, and, yes, I already have a lifetime commitment to recall from former service, thanks, never mind my volunteer reserve one ...

Surreptitious Evil said...

Sorry - link failed - should be

I'll go and flagellate myself vigorously with a mouse cord ...

subrosa said...

I don't think there should be any conditions to these 'perks' Dioclese. It's the least that can be done. For years so many were just dumped when they left/retired.

subrosa said...

Ah Conan, I know where to come for mine now. I haven't bothered. There's little public transport around here and by the time I go to the city then the parking fee is extortionate so I just take the car all the way.

subrosa said...

Didn't Cameron say something about renegotiating the covenant Dram?

Then again, he's said lots of things about lots of things...

subrosa said...

Aye the AFHOS is new since my day SE. Is it decades? Maybe only two. As for learning credits, I can get the same as a pensioner - nothing to do with military service whatsoever, but to do with income.

I've heard, although third hand, that yes some can retrain as teachers, but they have to pay the fees as mature students. OK if you have a pension or can get an advance on it.

Oh no, not a mouse cord. Much more effective with the cord of your hoover.

Macheath said...

'Opportunities to retrain as teachers'

Looks like someone's been thinking "Now, there wasn't any discipline problem to speak of in schools back in the fifties when a load of ex-servicemen went into teaching."

Should be interesting to watch the outcome..

subrosa said...

I've not heard of a mass of ex-soldiers wishing to be teachers Macheath. Maybe they realise they couldn't handle the non-discipline rules in schools.

Macheath said...

Good point, SR; these days you aren't even allowed to use sarcasm in the classroom in case you damage the pupils' fragile self-esteem.

Incidentally, as far as I know, the state has no equivalent of the cadet forces frequently found in Britain's public schools. I suppose it's politically unacceptable, but one wonders what the effect would be of introducing to state schools a similar scheme run by ex-service personnel.

subrosa said...

In this wee town we have an army cadet force, an RAF one and I'm not sure about the Navy. Don't think it's connected with the school as it used to be way back but it's well attended by youngsters and they do their annual parade each Remembrance Day. The groups are run by ex-military.

Demetrius said...

It is all very well having former soldiers in a Reserve force but it might have unintended consequences. In 1956 when numbers of reserves were called up there were mutinies in several places little reported and major disciplinary problems in others unreported. Some units between angry reservists and national servicemen due for demob became impossible to control.

subrosa said...

You're certainly right about these mini rebellions being little recorded Demetrius but I have been told of them from a few of my generation.

The situation is vastly different now though. Many national servicemen wanted to make a career in the forces back in the 50s, or at least stay in for another few years, but they were disallowed because we did have a strong Reservist force then.

If I find information about the 50s I will send you the link.

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