Andy McNab, the former SAS sergeant turned novelist, has called on the Government to speed up its work in helping Britain’s veterans make the transition back to civilian life.
Announcing his backing for The Independent’s appeal for Homeless Veterans, the Bravo Two Zero author said that while progress was gradually being made on improving the support offered to the country’s ex-servicemen and women, it should be made a priority.
McNab said last year’s report by Lord Ashcroft, which made 42 recommendations on how to help veterans make the switch back to ‘civvy street’ more easily, had been a “fantastic step forward”. But he added that the Government now needed to act.
“There is work being done, but it needs to happen now,” he said. “If we want our young men and women to put themselves in harm’s way for us, what we need to do is ensure they know that not only do we care about their welfare, but if they fall on hard times, we, as a society, will do something about it. Let’s do something about it now.”
In pictures: Homeless Veterans appeal
In pictures: Homeless Veterans appeal
1/20 Glynn Barrell
Glyn Barrell is among the veterans hoping to benefit from the self-build scheme in Plymouth
2/20 Rachel Holliday
Rachel Holliday is converting a police station into a hostel
3/20 Androcles Scicluna
Veteran Androcles Scicluna says performing boosted his confidence
4/20 Christopher Cole
Christopher Cole, 51, from London, spent three years in the Army but left in 1982
5/20 Maurillia Simpson
Former servicewoman Maurillia Simpson with the medals she won at last year’s Invictus Games
Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard
6/20 Martin Rutledge
Head of The Soldiers’ Charity, Martin Rutledge, says charities sometimes allow emotion to dictate their choices
7/20 Ben Griffin
Ben Griffin wants to open people’s eyes to the cycle of political violence
8/20 Robin Horsfall
Robin Horsfall, who fought in the Falklands and helped end the Iranian embassy siege
9/20 Mark Hayward
A bed for the night and food helped Mark Hayward out of misfortune
10/20 Ashley Rosser
Ashley Rosser, who served in the RAF, at the Veterans Aid hostel in east London
11/20 Dave Henson
Britain's Invictus Games captain Dave Henson says veterans’ charities helped rebuild his life
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
12/20 Hugh Milroy
Hugh Milroy dispels myths about war-zone veterans through his work as the CEO of Veterans Aid
13/20 Andy MacFarlane and Julie Taylor
Former soldiers Andy MacFarlane and Julie Taylor work at the Jaguar Land Rover plant in Solihull under a covenant connecting veterans with employers
14/20 Mark McKillion
Mark McKillion's experience of living on the street eventually left him feeling as though the only way to escape was to end his life. He survived his desperate jump from Westminster Bridge, and VA's help has restored his "faith in humanity"
Nigel, a navy veteran, remembers living on the beach in the run-up to Christmas, when it rained every day for a week. He slept on a bench for seven years whilst suffering from Parkinson's disease.
16/20 Keith Cooper
Before Keith Cooper had his place confirmed at Avondale House in Newcastle, he was working out whether he could afford to buy a tent to live in
17/20 Simon Weston
Simon Weston, a Falklands War veteran, said even something as simple as a cup of tea can be an important step in getting the life of a homeless veteran back on track.
18/20 Ian Palmer, professor of military psychiatry
Ian Palmer, the first professor of military psychiatry to the British Armed Forces, says that the depiction of all ex-service personnel having post-traumatic stress disorder may stop people who really need help from getting it
19/20 Douglas Cameron
Evgeny Lebedev with Douglas Cameron, who had a hernia operation while serving in Burma
Johnnie Shand Kidd
20/20 Veterans Aid
General Sir Mike Jackson, President of ABF The Soldiers' Charity, called for donations to the Homeless Veterans appeal
The Government said it had already put 22 of the recommendations into practice, such as the provision of a 24-hour helpline, resettlement advice for early service leavers and the creation of financial education schemes. But a further 17 are still being developed or examined in more detail, with three not being taken forward.
“We are pleased that Lord Ashcroft found the vast majority of servicemen and women manage transition effectively – and that the Government, and others supporting veterans, are already providing a lot of effective support,” a spokesperson for the MoD added.
McNab said he was happy to give his backing to The Independent’s appeal for Homeless Veterans, which is raising money for Veterans Aid and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity. Proceeds are being divided evenly between the two charities, which lend a hand to ex-servicemen and women who fall on hard times.
“I support the Homeless Veterans Appeal for two simple reasons: they need our help – and more importantly they deserve our help,” McNab said. “Homeless veterans are nothing new: even the heroes of the Battle of Trafalgar were left to beg on the streets. The problem of veterans rough sleeping isn’t as bad as it was, but we must take action to stop homelessness in all its forms.
“It’s a fact that some veterans do find it hard to assimilate back into the civilian world. It is nothing to be ashamed of, and given what some of them have seen or been through, it is hardly surprising.”
Both charities benefiting from The Independent’s appeal welcomed McNab’s support. Martin Rutledge, chief executive of The Soldiers’ Charity, said: “Having the support of people like Andy, who have given so much for their country, is incredibly humbling. The backing we have received to help us support veterans is going to make a massive difference in the lives of those struggling the most.
“But there is still so much more to do as stated in the Ashcroft report. The Soldiers’ Charity is committed to supporting each veteran or family, helping to make 2015 a year of stability and hope.”
Dr Hugh Milroy, the CEO of Veterans Aid, added: “As ever, we are heartened by support for the campaign and glad to see others endorsing our view that perceptions of veterans need to change. However, accentuating the positive must never diminish our commitment to helping those who do need a hand up.”Reuse content