Thursday, 16 September 2010

One Stop Shop

Our military veterans haven't been treated too well over the decades but it's encouraging to know that military charities continue to do their best for those who have served this country.

The new Armed Forces Advice Project (Asap) has been set up by Poppyscotland, Citizens Advice Scotland and a number of other groups. It has been funded to the tune of £600,000 by Poppyscotland, the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, The Maritime Charities Funding Group, ABF the Soldiers' Charity, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen and Families Association Forces Help (SSAFA), The Robertson Trust and Turn2us.

The above charities already provide a range of help, but the new project aims to streamline the service and speed up the process for veterans. We may have many more veterans returning to civilian life and some will find it difficult to adjust after the family-type unit the military provides.

Now anyone who is serving in the armed forces or has previously served, and their families, will be able to access help through a national helpline or by turning up at one of the 83 Citizens Advice Bureaux across Scotland. It's can be difficult for those who have never had connections with the military to understand how confusing returning to Civvy Street can be for those who joined up when they were young. One example is when the 'new' veteran may suddenly realise they need to see a doctor. In the military they go to the Medical Office at an appointed time each day. In civilian life it can be complex if they haven't registered with one and even more confusing when they're told they have to wait days to see a GP. They're used to seeing a doctor within 24 hours because the military don't want staff off sick longer than is absolutely necessary, so attending to their needs promptly is the policy and ensures they're back at work as quickly as possible.

If this is successful it would be good to see it rolled out throughout the UK. There is help there for veterans, but with so many charities offering different services, a veteran can be innocently pushed from pillar to post in their time of dire need. The national helpline is 0845 231 0300.


Edward Spalton said...

It was in the early Sixties when I first came across SSAFA. I was a trainee with a corn merchant in Banbury and was given the job of chasing up some overdue accounts.

One was an ex serviceman who had bought feed for his smallholding. He had an accident which stopped the main income from his day job and he got into a bit of a mess, simply leaving bills unpaid. I was being distinctly bumptious and officious on behalf of my boss when a man from SSAFA turned up and put things into perspective. They tided the man over with a loan which enabled him to pay something on account whilst he convalesced and after about 6 months he got back to work and it all came right.

subrosa said...

SSAFA is an excellent organisation Edward. Problem is sometimes veterans don't know what they offer. Many referrals come through various other agencies. This new system will hopefully ensure help isn't delayed by bureaucracy.

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