Visiting veterans in Orkney
At the beginning of the month I travelled up to Orkney to meet with members of the local veterans community and learn a bit more about the support and services available on the island. Speaking with members of the Kirkwall Legion and the Orkney Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Club, I learned about some of the challenges in accessing support compared with built-up areas on the mainland.
I also attended a Firm Base meeting which involves local services and organisations coming together to give updates and share insight on local support for the veterans and forces communities.
On my second day, I was invited to Balfour Hospital where I met with veterans now working for NHS Orkney. They shared their experiences of living more remotely and of taking up a career in the NHS after their Service.
I’m hugely thankful to all who gave their time to speak with me and show me around.
Lothians Veteran’s Centre
Closer to home, I met with veterans and their partners at Lothians Veterans Centre, as well as the dedicated staff and volunteers who keep this important support group going. I very much enjoyed meeting with everyone and it was great to witness how much peer-to-peer support there is within the veterans community.
My Annual Progress Report
I published my annual assessment of the Scottish Government’s progress in improving support and services for Scotland’s veterans and their families. The latest assessment identified notable successes across the areas of health and wellbeing, and employment, skills and learning. However, it also highlighted mental health and homelessness prevention as areas where further progress is required. Providing scrutiny and supportive challenge to policy makers and those providing services to veterans is an important aspect of my role, as it gives an independent and impactful picture of statutory support for veterans in Scotland, allowing us to celebrate successes and focus attention on areas where more effort is required.
You can read more about the key findings of the report here, or you can view the report in full here.