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Military Covenant must work in practice, not just principle

22/11/2021

Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd has used a Parliamentary debate to stress the importance of the Military Covenant, expressing concern that it is not being enforced as robustly as possible in all areas.  He warned that many veterans face isolation and suffering as a result.

Mr Llwyd, who has campaigned extensively for veterans’ rights and chairs the Veterans in the Criminal Justice System Parliamentary Group fears that a postcode lottery is at work in which some veterans requiring post-service support are discriminated against purely as a result of where they live or how long ago they served.

He added that, although the majority of armed forces personnel adjust to civilian life normally after discharge, it is vital that those who do require care receive the utmost support in accordance with the Military Covenant, highlighting its importance as something which must be put into practice rather than merely exist in principle.

Speaking after the debate, Mr Llwyd said:

“While it is hugely encouraging that the Covenant has now been enshrined in law, it is vital that it forms the basis of robust action, rather than merely empty words.

“If this is not achieved – as I fear is happening in some cases at present – there is a real danger that some veterans face discrimination as a result of where they live or how long ago they served. This postcode lottery is wholly unacceptable and does a great disservice to those who have sacrificed so much for their countries.

“While the majority of armed forces personnel adjust to civilian life after discharge, unless the Covenant is practiced properly then those veterans who do need help face a whole range of problems such as isolation, lack of welfare support, mental health issues and in some cases, alcohol problems.

“The mere fact that a debate was held on this topic today clearly indicates that concerns exist over the Military Covenant’s shortcomings.

“What we need is more resources to deal with mental health problems, greater recognition of the welfare needs of veterans, and urgent action to address the dependency on alcohol and other substances which many armed forces personnel develop.

“These individuals have shown great commitment and sacrifice throughout their time in service and while recent years have seen positive developments in the field of veteran care, much more must be done in order to prevent more men and women falling into a downward spiral of suffering.”