Mayoral candidate pledges a better deal for veterans

Norma RedfearnLabour’s candidate for elected Mayor of North Tyneside, Norma Redfearn, has pledged a better deal for veterans as she became one of the first to sign up to a new campaign to help former members of the armed forces.
Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, Jim Murphy today launched a nationwide campaign to persuade local authorities to appoint a Veterans Champions, a dedicated person at each council to help service leavers re-settle in to civilian life.

Norma Redfearn has announced that she will appoint a Champion for Veterans’ in her Cabinet, if she is elected in May.

Councillor Norma Redfearn said:

“Many local people have and continue to give great service to our nation in our armed forces. When their years of service are over, we have a duty to look after service men and women returning to our community. I welcome Labour’s campaign to ensure every local council has Veteran’s Champion to ensure they get the support they need.

“If I’m elected I will appoint a Veterans’ Champion from within my Cabinet. I want to ensure North Tyneside Council does all it can to help our former servicemen and women. Many leave our forces having seen combat and many sadly can develop mental health issues. It’s important that there is someone at the Council who will stand up for our returning heroes and address their specific needs. I am pleased to support this initiative.”

Jim Murphy MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary said:

“Our country is brilliant at turning civilians into soldiers, but we are not good enough when the time comes to turning soldiers back into civilians.

“Transition from military to civilian life can be difficult and distressing. A one-stop-shop for access to services and entitlements would make an enormous difference.

“A Veterans Champion would help those who have performed heroics overseas find a new home or job back home.

“Each council could take this step in a way that best serves local needs. We want to strengthen the bond between civilian and military communities, making the Military Covenant a reality for everyone.”

Hilary Benn MP, Labour's Shadow Local Government Secretary, said:

“Local Government has a big part to play in supporting our veterans as they return to civilian life. From giving advice on finding a home or a job to community groups that renew old friendships and help make new ones, councils and communities have a special responsibility to assist the men and women we hold in such esteem for their courage and their service to our nation.”


Editor's notes:

On return from the frontline or on departing the Forces many service leavers struggle with the transition from military to civilian life. Some find it hard to access the services they require and are not aware of the benefits available to them.

A Veterans’ Champion would provide a ‘one-stop shop’ for those arriving to a local community post-service. The Champion would be someone who would provide a single point of contact and an integrated support network. This would complement existing council initiatives.

Reasons our Forces need support:
Mental health issues
• Between 1 May 2010 and 31 March 2012 (the latest date for which published data are available) 3,021 UK armed forces personnel had at least one episode of care at a MOD DCMH or in-patient admission with an initial assessment for “adjustment disorder”.

• 22,670 left the Forces in the 12 months leading up to 30th Sept 2012. According to government figures this will mean 1,133 not getting work.