Veterans UK have worked alongside the Veterans Advisory and Pensions Committee (VA &PC ) for many years, to provide support to the veterans’ communities. One of the Chairmen tells us more about how the VA& PC works to do that.
I’m Chris Downward and I’m chairman of the Wales Region of the VA&PC.
Our main aim is to act as a bridge between the veterans’ community and their national government.
This reflects one of the core responsibilities of all 13 regional VAPCs that cover the UK. We all want to ensure that veterans receive the best help and care they can get, where and when they need it. We can help with advice on pensions, allowances and other issues and can direct the veteran to the best available people and places for further information.
We see ourselves as a conduit for the veterans’ community so that their concerns can be voiced at the highest levels; these can be concerns about pensions in general or very specific cases. It can mean acting as a voice to local and national governments so that veterans’ needs are never sidelined.
How does this translate into reality?
Members of the VAPC are all well connected within their own areas and fields, and this could be with local or national governments, third sector organisations, health, education or social departments, for example. Our shared aim unifying desire is to monitor and help the needs of the veterans’ community.
We also act as "the eyes and ears" of Ministers in both London and Cardiff so that are always aware of the feelings amongst the veterans’ community. Our members are nearly always part of their local Armed Forces Community covenant group, ensuring that we are connected from top to bottom of government, local to national.
What does this really mean?
We recently had an example of a veteran who was not receiving the benefits he was entitled to. We were able to visit him, advise him to ask for a reassessment of his pension and benefits and help him access local military charities to deal with his immediate circumstances.
The result was that instead of a veteran going bankrupt and losing his house, we now have a veteran who is well on the road to financial stability and subsequent happiness.
We think so!
On a national level, we have been instrumental in increasing the money available for veterans’ mental health in Wales. The result is shorter waiting lists and a service that understands veterans’ needs.
We routinely visit retirement and nursing homes to ensure that any veteran resident is getting all the best care he can and also to ensure that he or she never feels forgotten. This results in meeting some wonderful people, from "Dambusters" to George Cross winners, from former prisoners of war to more recent veterans
Worthwhile? Definitely !
Our inclusion in the Armed Forces Bill in 2015 means we now have a firm legal base and national framework in which to work. This should enable us to to do more for our veterans
Worthwhile being a member? Without doubt, if you want to help veterans in a practical and fulfilling way there is no better way of doing it.
For more information about the work of the VA&PC please visit GOV.UK