Speaking of the Daily Express ‘Homes for Heroes’ campaign, UKIP Veterans Spokesman, Mike Hookem MEP said, “For many years, Britain’s armed forces have been celebrated as some of the most dedicated, professional, and compassionate troops anywhere in the world.”
“But how we treat these dedicated men and women once their military service is over, is frankly a national disgrace.
“With an estimated 1 in 10 rough sleepers thought to be from a service background; limited access to specialist healthcare; overstretched treatment programmes for PTSD; and a void of dedicated post-service care, we as a nation are failing our heroes.
“For me, a veteran becoming homeless is the final step in a downward spiral caused by a wide range of factors, and many of those affected tell stories of a rapid descent from celebrated soldier to ignored homeless person.
In 2013, a report claiming the UK had 9,000 homeless veterans was widely criticised and shouted down. However, many of the charities and veterans groups I speak to tell me the problem of veteran homelessness is very real, especially when ‘hidden homelessness’ is taken into account.
“PTSD, relationship breakdown, problems with drink and drugs, and a lack of access to care are often factors leading to life on the streets.
“And with an estimated 3,000 veterans requiring urgent help for PTSD and other wounds each year - a figure that is predicted to rise sharply over the coming years – we have a potential ticking time bomb of failure within our veterans community.
“That is why we must act now!
“One of the main problems in finding homes for veterans is the vagueness in the wording of the 2012 Armed Forces and Community Covenant, which only recommends local authorities put housing stock aside for former members of the armed force, rather than it being a mandatory requirement.
“The simple fact is, the 2012 Armed Forces and Community Covenant is little known, often misunderstood and equally as often, blatantly ignored by those providing critical services in 'civvy' street.
“No longer can we allow veterans to languish at the bottom of waiting lists for housing and care. There is no need in this country for veterans to be sleeping rough, suffering the effects of ill health; or being consigned to the dole, when they so often have so much to offer society.
“Every veteran in this country deserves better. That is why I am so pleased the Daily Express has launched this campaign to demand a change in the wording of the 2012 Armed Forces and Community Covenant.
“The simple fact is, unless we tackle this problem head-on and force the authorities to abide the terms of the covenant, we will continue you to betray those who offer everything for this country.
“Britain’s veterans deserve better, and we as a nation should honour what is already theirs as part of the military covenant. I for one am determined they will get the help, care and respect they deserve. Please join me and sign the Express.co.uk petition today.”