1. The involvement of British personnel in operations
in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere over the last decade has reminded
us, once again, of the courage and commitment of our Armed Forces.
Partly as a result of these conflicts, the UK currently has more
veterans than at any time since the Second World War. More Armed
Forces personnel are also surviving injuries which would have
been fatal in previous conflicts because of advances in medical
2. Wales has a long and proud relationship with
the Armed Forces. Welsh military personnel have made an enormous
contribution to the defence of the United Kingdom and in conflicts
around the world, and continue to do so today. Precise figures
are hard to establish but it has been estimated that there are
about 250,000 veterans in Wales. The Welsh Government, however,
believes that this figure represents all members of the "Armed
Forces community in Wales", which includes serving personnel,
reservists and cadets, as well as their families and veterans.
UK policy framework
3. Overall policy responsibility for veterans'
issues in Wales is divided between the UK Government and the Welsh
Government. At the UK level, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has
responsibility for issues such as resettlement provision, pensions
and compensation. The Welsh Government is responsible for devolved
matters such as housing and healthcare. Additionally, local authorities
and NHS bodies provide specific services for Armed Forces veterans.
4. Successive governments have placed an emphasis
on veterans' issues over the past decade. Between 2000 and 2010
the UK Government introduced several measures to attempt to recognise
the special status of the ex-service community. These included:
- the creation of the post of
Minister for Veterans in 2001;
- the launch of the 'Veterans Initiative';
- the publication of the Strategy for Veterans
- the establishment of a Veterans Badge in 2004;
- the introduction of annual Veterans Day (now
called Armed Forces Day) in 2006; and
- the publication of the Command Paper, The
Nation's Commitment: Cross Government Support to our Armed
Forces, their Families and Veterans, in 2008.
In the last General Election in 2010, the three main
parties all included policies aimed at veterans in their manifestos.
5. In 2011, the Coalition Government published
the Armed Forces Covenant, which sets out the relationship between
the nation, the state and the Armed Forces. The Covenantwhich
applies to veterans as well as serving personneldeclared
that the whole nation has a moral obligation to members of the
Armed Forces and their families. It stated that Armed Forces personnel
should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the
provision of public and commercial servicesfor example,
in housing, healthcare and educationand that special consideration
was appropriate in some cases, especially for those, such as the
seriously injured, who have given most. The MoD publishes an annual
Armed Forces Covenant Reportthe first was published in
December 2012which makes various commitments to support
the Armed Forces Community in line with the principle of the Covenant.
6. Many areas of the Covenant fall to the devolved
administrations to deliver. The devolved governments in Wales
and Scotland have published their own documents to support the
Armed Forces Covenant and make their own commitments to members
of the Armed Forces Community. The Welsh Government published
its Package of Support for the Armed Forces Community in Wales
in November 2011.
7. Given the high number of Armed Forces veterans
in Wales, and the increasing public profile of veterans' issues,
we launched an inquiry to examine the adequacy of support services
for veterans in Wales. We particularly focused on:
- The provision of support services
to Armed Forces veterans and their families in Wales by the Ministry
of Defence, including resettlement provision;
- The provision of medical and mental health services
for veterans in Wales;
- The co-ordination of service delivery between
the various levels of government; and
- The role of the charitable sector in providing
support to veterans.
8. As part of our inquiry, we visited Blind Veterans
UK Llandudno Centre (previously St Dunstan's), MoD St Athan in
the Vale of Glamorgan, and Veterans First Point in Edinburgh.
These visits were invaluable to help us identify areas of concern
for serving personnel and veterans.
9. In the current Parliament, we have been committed
to holding regular evidence sessions in Wales. As part of this
inquiry, we took evidence at the National Assembly for Wales,
Cardiff, and at Venue Cymru, Llandudno. We also took evidence
in Edinburgh from the Scottish Government's Minister for Housing
and Transport, who is responsible for the Scottish Government
veterans' policy. A full list of those from whom we took evidence
can be found on pages 37-38. We are grateful to everyone who provided
oral and written evidence to our inquiry.
10. The Committee was assisted in this inquiry
by its Specialist Adviser, Brigadier Robert Aitken.
1 Package of Support for the Armed Forces Community
in Wales, Welsh Government, November 2011 Back
This has evolved into the Veterans Programme, which provides an
essential channel of communication between veterans, Central Government
departments and Devolved Administrations. Back
See Formal Minutes of 11 October 2011 at http://www.parliment.uk/documents/commons-committees/welsh-affairs/Formalminutes10-12.pdf Back