We are an apolitical organisation which exists purely as an advocate of veteran’s welfare. As the chairman, I am insistent on funds raised through charitable endeavours directly benefitting those that need it most: in our case, the Veterans of the British and Commonwealth armed services. With this in mind, the British and Commonwealth Veterans Association pledges that every penny that we do not need to keep the lights on will be invested in services directly benefitting our members, and the wider veteran community. We endeavour to directly fund services, and also to coordinate both the resources of government and other armed forces charities towards successful local projects addressing the most pressing issues facing veterans.
It has been publicly alleged that some of the larger veterans charities are have reserves totalling hundreds of millions of pounds in both cash and assets. I question why these monies are not being directed to more programmes that help the large numbers of homeless vets, or those suffering from physical and mental injuries that are still falling through the cracks. We at the BaCVA guarantee to independently investigate these claims and to use all of the means at our disposal to pressure these charities to follow our example, ensuring the money is spent in the areas of greatest need.
In recent years there has been an emphasis on mental health. Recent conflicts appear to have caused a significant rise of PTSD in service people. There are multiple charities trying to deal with this in their local areas. They need help from the major charities to be able to do more. Basic needs of food and accommodation are not being met with estimates of between 2,000 and 4,000 veterans now homeless, mental health being a significant cause of this statistic. Some of the smaller local charities have been exceptionally successful in helping those suffering from mental illness arising from military service, however none of these programmes have been reproduced nationally. We think lack of funds is the leading cause.
It goes without saying: we also need to look after the physical health of veterans. Aside from more obvious injuries, i.e. losing limbs or have visible scars, service personnel are particularly prone to ailments that are less apparent. Many of these injuries don’t manifest until later in life. These include Repetitive Strain Injuries from carrying large weights and hearing loss from live firing with insufficient hearing protection among them. At present, service personnel can try to claim war pensions, medical pensions and so on. What they actually need is access to treatment by people who understand their particular injuries.
Nobody will disagree with the aims above. The services we will provide and promote will benefit significant numbers of veterans who have access to them. However many veterans will struggle to gain access through traditional channels. It is widely known that veterans can fall through the cracks of society upon returning to civilian life. This, combined with Commonwealth services personnel not returning to their country of birth, makes official data of veterans numbers unreliable at best. We aim to create a central database of all living veterans in order to ensure that as many of them as possible can access the services that they need.
The above may take years to achieve, but we have to start somewhere.
- Andrew Kemp