If you have served in our armed forces, your regional Veterans Advisory and Pensions Committees are ready to help.
These committees are independent non-departmental bodies of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and are made up of experienced volunteers who have an interest in the welfare of ex-service people. Formerly known as the War Pensions Committees, they advise and liaise with veterans, their families and relevant organisations on their needs, issues and general welfare matters.
A large part of their responsibility is to raise awareness and ensure implementation of the Armed Forces Covenant.
Here is one example of how the Eastern England VAPC assisted one young man in Cambridgeshire. Penny Kingham JP (one of our brilliant VAPC members in the East of England) had been approached by a young man who is in the process of leaving the army, although still currently serving. He had sustained an injury whilst serving and unfortunately now has to walk with a stick.He was having great difficulty in obtaining registration at his local doctors surgery. He became very frustrated and reminded them of the covenant. They said they were at full capacity and were therefore unable to see him at the surgery.
Penny had asked what we could do to get help and in consultation with the Chairman of the Eastern VAPC, Jonathan Jelley MBE JP and Veterans UK, it was felt that we had to explain to him that the covenant was not designed to give those serving or who have served advantage in social provision, but rather more to ensure equality and no disadvantage because of military service.
With that, Penny then relayed this information back to the young man and his mother and showed them the precise relevant part of the covenant which they copied. She suggested to them that they go back to the surgery to explain.
Armed with this, they did indeed return to the surgery concerned to calmly explain the full situation. It seems that the young solider had been registered with the surgery since childhood. His wife and his own child continue to be registered at the surgery. They explained that he had only left the surgery when joining the army and now wanted to return. Upon hearing this, the Practice Manager became involved and agreed that had he not joined the army, he would still have been registered and therefore under the covenant they took him back onto their list.
What an excellent demonstration of where the covenant can help and how VAPCs can help to ensure favorable outcomes on the ground. This military family although unprepared to make any public comment were delighted with the outcome. This was due to Penny Kingham JP acting in her capacity as an Eastern England VAPC member with a clear sense of purpose and commitment. As Penny said:
If it helps just one more person it will be worth the effort.
If you or someone you know is a veteran who needs help then please do contact your local VAPC.