The Minister for Defence People and Veterans Johnny Mercer gave a keynote speech outlining the MOD’s commitment to the armed forces community at Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) 2019. Here Defence Online presents the edited highlights…
“The role of this office is to ensure this Government’s duty to the nation’s veterans.
“The Office has a clear objective: to harness all functions and initiatives across Government to ensure the nation’s duty to those who have served – and crucially their families.
“It does not mean the provision of services – we have some wonderful service providers in the UK, both public, in the NHS, and in the third sector with some world-class charity programmes.
“But it does means professionalisation of veterans’ services. It means a determined collection of data to begin to build a single view of the veteran both inside and outside Government. It means a determination to ensure that the charity sector is fit for purpose.
“It means for the first time an accountability – an ultimate accountability in the political sphere, for the duty that politicians are so good at talking about – our debt to those who have served and their families.
“It means an end to duplication, so that every single pound donated by the British public to looking after the nation’s veterans is used in the most effective way.
“And finally it means an end to a postcode lottery by legislating the Armed Forces Covenant into law so that wherever you live in this United Kingdom you can expect as Teddy Roosevelt told a gathering of veterans on July 4th 1903: “A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. More than that no man is entitled, and less than that no man shall have.
“We have some genuinely world class care-deliverers in this country in the Charity sector. I am determined to promote and nurture these. This nation owes a huge debt of gratitude for the leading role charities have played in getting veterans’ care to a better place in this country.
“I am humbled every time I have contact with individuals working in this sector – the sheer devotion to duty to our people is astounding, and it is now time that in Government we matched it.
“But collaboration was always the key; it is now a necessity. This sector has received almost a billion pounds in LIBOR money over the last ten years. There is no conceivable reason why the sector cannot be configured in a way that is entirely focused on the veteran and their needs, with the end result being a veterans’ care service that truly is the envy of the world.
“This is a collaborative journey, and there is no-one’s voice who will not be heard going forward – it is an inclusive journey, not an exclusive one, and everybody is invited – we will demonstrate this with our Veterans Forums and other initiatives that I will launch in the weeks ahead.”
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