It’s now been one year since I took up the role of SVC. It’s been a busy but highly insightful and enjoyable first year. One of my top priorities has been meeting with individuals and organisations from across the country with the aim of capturing the collective voice of Scotland’s veterans community.
I’m extremely grateful to everyone who has given up their time to share their experiences. I appreciate that some of the memories and views shared have been deeply personal, and I hope that using them to inform my work will result in positive change for other members of the veterans community in the future.
I’m delighted to announce that the first of my reports to come out of this work will be published in January 2024. Themed around community and relationships, this piece of work will look into the experiences of the wider veterans community and how well-served all veterans and their families are by existing services and support. It will pay particular attention to the needs of women veterans, of LGBTQ+ veterans, the bereaved and to the partners, spouses and children of veterans and Service leavers – groups which I believe deserve a greater focus when it comes to supporting the veterans community.
Through engaging with groups such as Forces Children Scotland, the V Word, BLESMA, Military Wives Choirs, Fighting With Pride, the Association of Wrens and many, many, more, I have a wealth of material to work with and I very much look forward to sharing my findings and recommendations early next year.
I also look forward to sharing an update on the Scottish Government’s progress against recommendations from previous SVC reports in September. Carried out annually, the purpose of the SVC Progress Report is to provide scrutiny and supportive challenge to policy makers and those providing services to the veterans’ community. This is an important piece of work which can help to highlight both successes and areas requiring further improvement.
Looking ahead to my second year, I will continue to drive forward my commitment to listening to the voice of lived experience and building it into all of my work. Thank you again to everyone who has welcomed me over the past year – it has been a real pleasure to meet you all and your contribution is hugely valued.