Britain's SHAME: Veterans 'fobbed off' by council sleep rough and attempt suicide


VETERANS are finishing top of housing waiting lists and still not getting a roof over their heads because the Armed Forces Covenant is simply not working.

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Image:www.mike-hookem.org

Please watch and sign the 'Homes for Heroes' petition to force Government to look after our brave veterans: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/182429%20

The Covenant, signed by every local authority, is supposed to give military heroes priority housing and health care – but not only are veterans being forced to sleep rough, they are waiting years for treatment for mental problems caused by their stint in the forces.

There is £30m worth of funding made available by Government, but many councils are not even applying for it, despite desperate, traumatised veterans begging for help.

The Covenant, signed by every local authority, is supposed to give military heroes priority housing and health care – but not only are veterans being forced to sleep rough, they are waiting years for treatment for mental problems caused by their stint in the forces.

There is £30m worth of funding made available by Government, but many councils are not even applying for it, despite desperate, traumatised veterans begging for help.

Sign the Homes for Heroes petition to force Government to look after our brave veterans: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/182429%20

One badly affected area is Bolton, where a new veterans’ centre has opened up due to the sheer volume of ex-forces personnel being badly let down.

Bolton Council confirmed to Express.co.uk that it had not applied for funding from the Covenant’s grant scheme and many veterans claim they are consistently “fobbed off”.

One veteran, AB, needs to move house because his heavily pregnant wife has a restraining order out against a group of people living on the same road.

Despite applying for many houses, and finishing top of the council waiting list, the properties are being awarded to other people, making a mockery of the supposed “priority” given to former military men and women.

Under the NHS he has waited eight years to be finally diagnosed as having PTSD, despite being sectioned once before when police found him roaming the countryside unable to remember his own name.

He said: “I’ve not been given priority at all. It took years to be taken seriously.

“It’s so dangerous to remain in Bolton that my wife can’t walk the street on her own – and she’s about to have our first child together.

“I was willing to give up my life for Queen and country and this is how I’ve been treated.”

Councils give priority housing to those with existing links to the area, but AB needs to leave Bolton for that very reason – AB, and countless others, are slipping through the net.

The Armed Forces Covenant says veterans “SHOULD” get priority housing and healthcare, not “MUST” – this needs to change.

Due to a near-total lack of support from the Government and local authorities, volunteers are forced to step in and run the Bolton Armed Forces Centre – at their own cost.

Cait Smith-Wilson, a Northern Ireland veteran who spent five years battling the IRA and has since suffered from PTSD to the point of becoming suicidal, offers other veterans a one-stop shop where they can receive counselling, help with housing and medical treatment.

Despite attempting to arrange two meetings with Bolton Council, she says she has never been able to discuss the issues with local politicians.

She said: “I’m doing this so nobody has to go through what I went through. Feeling alone, worthless.

“People come out of the army having been in the forces all their lives and they cannot just adapt to civy street overnight, they need help.

“At the moment they aren’t getting it from Government or local councils and that needs to change.”

Another veteran, PJ, was forced to sleep in a tent in a car park while he waited for housing after being discharged from the forces.

He claims he was “fobbed off” by the council and has made several attempts on his life, saying: “If it wasn’t for Cait and the Veterans’ centre I wouldn’t be here.”

Bolton Wanderers Football Club signed the same covenant as the council and they host regular events for veterans because they feel it is their moral obligation to do so – showing exactly how the legislation can be enforced as long as there is the will to do so.

A spokesman for Bolton Wanderers said: “We want to help veterans build their confidence and a life for themselves in the community outside of the forces.

“We want to make sure their skills are used effectively and they remain motivated in life.”

Express.co.uk contacted Bolton Council who said they would send over some information on how they have helped veterans, but nothing has yet been received.

We have also asked for proof of any time when the Armed Forces Covenant was used to good effect.

Speaking of the express.co.uk ‘Homes for Heroes’ campaign, UKIP Veterans Spokesman; Mike Hookem MEP said, “Veteran care is a basic duty of government, yet they are failing in this critical responsibility.”

 “Instead of taking on the responsibility and providing adequate services and care to veterans themselves, the government prefer to ‘outsource’ the task to military charities.

“And while charities working in the veterans sector do an incredible job; many are underfunded and totally overstretched.

“That is why it is critical to rethink how the government delivers veterans services and care moving forward.”

“As a minimum, the Armed Forces and Communities Covenant must be made fit for purpose and fulfil its objective of compensating veterans for the disadvantages and injuries they face due to their military service. 

“This should be an absolute priority of government, as we have a moral duty to look after those who are prepared to risk all to defend us. 

“I would also like to see the creation of a Veterans Affairs Department - using the USVA as a model - that will be responsible for all aspects of post-service armed forces care, and which could relieve the burden currently placed on military charities by the Government. 

“The fact is, under the terms of the covenant, not one veteran should be sleeping on the street or be unable to access care, yet it is an ever-present issue. 

“So join me in signing the express.co.uk petition to make sure our veterans get the help and treatment they so richly deserve.”

See the article and sign the petition at: http://www.express.co.uk/…/Armed-forces-military-veterans-H…

 

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Article first uploaded 13 February - 2017
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