Military charities welcome government ministry for veterans

The Office for Veterans' Affairs was set up by the new Prime Minister earlier this week and will sit in the Cabinet Office

Army veterans: new ministry (Photograph: Getty Images)
Army veterans: new ministry (Photograph: Getty Images)

Armed forces charities have expressed hopes that the new Office for Veterans' Affairs will lead to closer government links with the voluntary sector.

Boris Johnson, the new Prime Minister, announced the creation of the office during a trip to a military base in Scotland yesterday.

It will sit within the Cabinet Office and be run jointly by Johnny Mercer, the Minister for Veterans, and Oliver Dowden, a Cabinet Office minister.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said the office would coordinate local and national government and "work with charities to deliver joined-up support for veterans".

Mel Waters, chief executive of Help for Heroes, said it intended to work closely with the office "to ensure that it makes a positive and significant difference to the lives of veterans and their families, many of whom feel let down by the current system".

A Royal British Legion spokeswoman said it hoped the office "undertakes regular and constructive engagement with the third sector".

But she added: "While we welcome the political priority being given to veterans’ issues, we have long maintained that the precise mechanism used to deliver support to the armed forces community is less important than the resources allocated to addressing need."

The RBL, she added, also wanted to hear how the office planned to take forward the improvements to veterans care outlined in the government document Strategy for our Veterans, which was published in November.

Nick Caplin, chief executive of Blind Veterans UK, said it was keen to work with government to deliver effective support to veterans.

"The office will provide a helpful government focus and lead to ensure that this is so," he added.

The creation of the office comes after Johnson signed a veterans’ pledge, drawn up by The Sun and forces charities, during his campaign to become Prime Minister.

The three-part pledge also committed him to enshrine the military covenant into law so that no veteran or their family ever faces disadvantage because of their military service, and to legislate to end "vexatious investigations into historical allegations against our troops".

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