November is always a busy month with loads going on to mark the Remembrance period. As well as events and activities taking place to raise funds in support of Scotland’s veterans community, there are many opportunities for meaningful reflection on the sacrifices made by members of our community. Remembrance is an important reminder to take a moment to thank all those who have served, and think of all those still living with the impact of conflict, including veterans, their loved ones and the bereaved.
I very much enjoyed a visit to the 'The Royal Scots', a Remembrance exhibition at Dalkeith Palace. It was beautifully curated and moving, thoughtfully highlighting the service and sacrifice of individual soldiers. It brought real meaning to the words we say every year: "We Will Remember Them".
General Practice Armed Forces and Veterans Recognition Scheme
November also saw the launch of the General Practice Armed Forces and Veterans Recognition Scheme across Scotland, announced by Veterans Minister Graeme Dey. The move aims to benefit veterans and Armed Forces families by providing more tailored healthcare focused on the specific health challenges they may face following military service.
The national roll out of the scheme aligns with SVC recommendations and is a hugely welcome move. For most Service leavers, GPs are the gatekeepers to wider healthcare services, so an improved understanding of veterans’ needs is a pivotal step towards ensuring they can access appropriate health and wellbeing services in a timely manner.
Attending the Office for Veterans' Affairs conference in York, I saw many insightful presentations and had a chance to meet Professor Zoe Morrison and Dr Moira Bailey from Robert Gordon University, who valuable research on Improving Access to Service Charities for Female Veterans. You can read the research here.
I also attended the Army in Scotland Firm Base Conference 2023, another great opportunity to gather insight and information about the latest work being undertaken to improve support and access to services for Scotland's Armed Forces, Service leavers, veterans and their families.
Royal Naval Benevolent Trust
I had a very interesting meeting with Rob Bosshart of The Royal Naval Benevolent Trust to hear of their work supporting serving and veteran Naval personnel and families in Scotland.