Category Archives: Veterans

New Bill is ‘lost opportunity’ to put the Armed Forces Covenant into law

No respect: Boris Johnson showed contempt for our Armed Forces by laying his wreath face-down at a Remembrance Day ceremony. Now his government will show contempt by failing to enshrine the Armed Forces Covenant into law.

How many times must the Tories let servicepeople down before military personnel (and former members of the services) realize the Tories are not their friends and don’t deserve their vote?

People in the military tend to have Toryism drummed into them from early training days onwards. It was no surprise when military personnel were found to have been using images of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for target practice a few years ago.

But it is bizarre, when the Tories take every opportunity to let our squaddies down.

Case in point: the new Armed Forces Bill. The Tories are saying it will enshrine the Armed Forces Covenant in law, to ensure that armed forces personnel, veterans and their families are not disadvantaged by their service when accessing key public services like health care, education and housing, but are treated fairly.

Sadly, the Tories can’t even treat them fairly in discussing this law about them.

You see:

The Bill will not enshrine the covenant in law at all.

Instead, the Bill introduces

a legal duty for relevant UK public bodies to have due regard to the principles of the Covenant

– which means very little in real terms.

Labour’s John Healey has it right:

“As it stands, this bill is a missed opportunity. It does not put the Armed Forces Covenant properly into law to ensure Forces personnel and veterans suffer no disadvantage in access to services, nor will it put right the long-term failings in the military justice system.”

No doubt our forces personnel won’t know they’ve been hoodwinked until they are back in civilian life and try to access the services they’ve been promised.

Source: New legislation to help ensure fair treatment for armed forces – GOV.UK

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What is the point of Remembrance Day when the government lets down our veterans so badly?

Contempt: at the national Remembrance Day commemoration service in 2019, Boris Johnson showed contempt for our Armed Forces by laying his wreath face-down. Is this merely symptomatic of the Tory government’s attitude to veterans generally?

I pass this on without comment. Do I need to amplify it further?

Disabled ex-armed forces personnel are being let down by the welfare system, with many experiencing stress and anxiety brought on by the struggle to access social security benefits, according to the Royal British Legion.

The charity said frontline Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff were insufficiently aware of their obligations under the armed forces covenant, which requires public services to give special consideration to injured ex-service personnel.

Among the difficulties reported by veterans to a Royal British Legion survey was the failure of benefits officials to understand post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when carrying out and scoring health assessments for disability benefits.

study by a Salford University academic published last year found many armed forces veterans with complex needs reported overwhelmingly negative experiences of universal credit, disability benefits assessments and benefit sanctions.

Source: Disabled veterans being let down by benefits system – Royal British Legion | Benefits | The Guardian

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DWP leaves navy amputee with £16 a month and tells him: get a job

Kevin Barnes: This former Navy amputee is hospital-bound but must use his pension to pay for a flat he can no longer occupy. Meanwhile the DWP has given him only £16/month in Universal Credit because of that pension.

Is anybody else thinking of Norman Tebbit, a Tory minister back in the 1980s, telling people to get “on your bike”?

That comment, inappropriate at the time, would be even more so in the case of 62-year-old Kevin Barnes, whose leg was amputated by surgeons because of circulatory problems.

The DWP assessed him for Universal Credit and decided to offer just £16 a month – while also demanding evidence that Mr Barnes was serious about returning to work.

It seems the assessment was carried out before his leg was removed, so he is now struggling to cope because of an out-of-date decision.

Mr Barnes is entitled to a military pension which pays £500 a month – most of which must now service his rent of £410 a month.

But his flat is now unsuitable for his needs as he is now bound to a wheelchair. In real terms, he is homeless – but must still pay for his flat because it contains all his possessions. Housing officials are trying to find him a new home.

Mr Barnes also draws £81.90 Personal Independence Payment, which is meant to be used to help him cope with extra financial pressures he faces because of his new disability.

He fears it will be cut in the near future because people are not eligible for PIP if they are in hospital for longer than 28 days and Mr Barnes has been hospitalised for two and a half weeks so far.

According to the Mirror:

Kevin said: “I’m supposed to be looking for work in the future, enhancing my CV, this that and the other.

“But I cannot plan for work at the moment. I now have to prepare myself for being in a wheelchair all the time and get used to that.

“Then there’s the prosthetics – I have my first meeting for that as well.

“I had been working and I expect … to work,” Kevin said. “I just thought I would be working and my naval pension would be a bit of a bonus, but it’s turned out to be my main source of income.

Source: Royal Navy amputee stranded with £16 Universal Credit told ‘get a job’ by DWP – Mirror Online

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The brutal difference between what Tories say and what they do

What Tories say:

Today – November 11 – is Remembrance Day. To mark the occasion, the Conservative Party announced a series of policies for ex-servicepeople.

Here’s one of them:

They have also announced extra childcare for military families and a law to protect veterans from “vexatious” legal action connected with their activities in the Armed Forces.

You may think that seems like a nice package.

What they do:

This is David Clapson:

He was a Lance Corporal in the Royal Signals serving in Belfast at the height of the troubles before leaving the army to work for BT. After working for the telecommunications firm for 16 years he became a carer for his elderly mother.

He suffered with Type 1 Diabetes and relied on regular insulin injections to survive.

Ordered to claim Jobseekers’ Allowance by the Tory-run Department for Work and Pensions, his payments were stopped after he missed an appointment and he died three weeks later, of diabetic shock, on July 20, 2013.

He had been unable to pay for the electricity to keep his insulin at the right temperature, meaning it had become unusable.

He had less than £4 to his name, and died with an empty stomach.

The Tories can say what they want and it won’t mean a thing.

This is what the Conservatives do to our ex-servicepeople. 

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Boris Johnson’s contempt for the Forces goes much further than laying a wreath wrongly

Yes, this is bad:

Contempt: Boris Johnson showed he holds our Armed Forces in contempt by laying a wreath at the Cenotaph upside-down.

Boris Johnson showed his disrespect for the UK’s Armed Forces this morning when he laid a wreath upside down at the Cenotaph during the Remembrance Day commemoration service.

This Writer doesn’t want to say it – because it has become a cliche – but, if Jeremy Corbyn had done the same, we would never hear the end of it. Remember the vilification he had at the first Remembrance Day he attended as Labour leader? He hadn’t done anything wrong!

This is much worse, though:

He was known only as George, he was 82 years old and he died of bronchial pneumonia after being evicted from a squat in Manchester – along with no fewer than 12 other ex-servicemen.

This is how the Conservatives treat our Armed Forces after their usefulness as cannon fodder is over – they throw them onto the streets.

George and his comrades were just 13 among more than 13,000 ex-servicepeople who the Conservatives have thrown onto our streets.

Many veterans, war heroes from the Falklands campaign through to conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, are reduced to sleeping in doorways, bus stops and parks, begging from passers-by.

Almost all are struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which often leads to other problems including addictions to drugs and alcohol.

None of them receive any help from the Conservative government. The Armed Forces Covenant – a promise to ensure that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly, that was enshrined in law in 2011 – is a sick joke.

The only help they receive is from charities. Chris Barwood, chair of the Salford Armed Forces Veterans Network said, “We are turning our backs on our troops who have taken the Queen’s shilling, sworn the oath of allegiance and offered up their lives to keep us safe and yet in return we do nothing to ensure that they have a roof over their heads and food in their bellies for their remaining years.”

The crowning irony is that most members of the Armed Forces are ardent Conservatives.

I hope they reconsider that position.

Why should they vote for a party that throws them into pointless conflicts, then throws them onto the streets when they get PTSD, and whose leader shows nothing but contempt for those of their comrades who have died defending their country?

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Forces veterans aren’t getting pensions in another sign of discrimination against them

Homeless: This could be an armed forces pensioner. There are plenty of stories of them dying homeless and alone on the UK’s streets.

It seems the government has been making it hard for ex-servicepeople to claim the pensions that should be theirs by right.

If you’re not surprised by this, it could be because we have been seeing reports of former forces personnel being made to sleep on the streets because they cannot afford a place to live.

So much for the government’s gratitude to those who have offered to lay down their lives for Queen and country.

Here’s the BBC:

Many veterans in Wales aged over 60 are not receiving armed forces pensions, according to a leading charity.

Age Cymru’s Steve Boswell said the money could make the difference between a life of “making do” and “activities and opportunities”.

Armed forces personnel who served from 1975 were automatically enrolled in the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS).

But they must contact the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to be able to claim the cash.

The system is complex and eligibility is linked to factors such as amount of time served and the end of service, as well as retirement age.

Age Cymru said evidence from a Wales-wide project suggested many over-60s were not claiming what they are entitled to.

Why is the system so complex? Why is the government so keen to insult the people who have guaranteed our safety over recent decades?

We can only conclude that this is deliberate persecution – for which we should all be ashamed.

Source: Armed forces veterans missing out on pensions, says charity – BBC News

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Comedian drops truth bomb on Tory policies for war veterans, disabled and elderly people

Emotional: Francesca Martinez.

If, like This Writer, you have switched off Question Time in disgust during the last few years of Conservative government and BBC/Establishment propagandism, then you missed a treat last night (June 13).

Answering a question on whether broken promises, gaffes and hanging from a zip-wire are the criteria for becoming the next UK prime minister – a clear reference to Boris Johnson’s commanding lead in the Conservative leadership election, she made the point that it doesn’t matter who gets in; every single Tory MP has the blood of more than 100,000 people on their hands:

I found it heartbreaking to watch this because like Ms Martinez (and many others), I have been campaigning for an end to Conservative persecution of the sick, disabled, elderly and vulnerable since their policies first started wrecking – and ending – lives.

Yet still this – let’s call it what it is – slaughter goes on. See this article for some further information on people who have died recently.

Boris Johnson won’t stop it. Jeremy Hunt won’t. Nor will Michael Gove. Raab? Javid? Hancock? Stewart? Don’t make me laugh.

They don’t care about it. Or if they do, it is This Writer’s sincere belief that they enjoy it. Otherwise they would have put a stop to it.

Ms Martinez said these deaths were caused by austerity. The Tories will say it was a financial necessity and that argument is a paper tiger because there is no financial necessity that justifies causing the death of a single person, let alone more than 100,000 – and remember, these are just the deaths we have been allowed to count.

The only answer is a general election and a Labour government. Once that is achieved, then the Conservative Party’s MPs must be brought to account for this ongoing atrocity.

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Divided nation: Reaction to video of soldiers shooting Corbyn poster shows danger to democracy

This is a media-led scandal; if the Tory-dominated mass media had not spent the last four years demonising Jeremy Corbyn, members of our armed forces would not have used an image of him as target practice.

And supporters of the armed forces would not have voiced their own hatred of Mr Corbyn. Consider the comments of Trevor Coult, founder of ‘For Our Veterans’ – and the organisation’s own comments in support of him:

It does say much about both the organisation and the man.

But with 13,000 veterans homeless thanks to Conservative government policies, and Jeremy Corbyn the only political leader likely to change that…

… these servicepeople are going to feel like a proper bunch of patsies if they actively oppose him becoming the UK’s democratically-elected leader – as some are predicting:

Senior voices in the Army are playing the incident down as an “error of judgement”:

“Apolitical”, is it? Here’s one ex-serviceman’s response to that:

Meanwhile, members of the public have been making up their own minds – and they’re not impressed:

(Robert Peston, below, is one of those best-placed to answer his own question, as a member of the mass-media representatives who have been so instrumental in demonising Mr Corbyn, in accordance with the wishes of the Conservatives.)

https://twitter.com/MattTurner4L/status/1113461221574029312

https://twitter.com/Aman_Sez/status/1113360112096358400

Whatever the facts of the matter really are, this incident has undermined trust in the UK’s armed forces – to a devastating extent.

People no longer believe they can trust the services to defend our nation, its laws and the way of life that we, as citizens of the United Kingdom, hold dear.

Instead, it seems the forces have been perverted until they exist only to defend the ruling class – meaning the Conservatives and representatives of the political far-right.

What will their leaders do to repair the damage – and will they even bother?


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Remembrance Day travesty: While Corbyn pledges to house homeless veterans, his critics carp about his coat

 

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Anybody catching this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony on television this year will have spotted Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn wearing an anoark rather than the black overcoat worn by many of his fellow wreath-laying political leaders – as you can see in the image above

I did. I wasn’t actually taking part in any events this year so I had a chance to sit down and watch it instead. I was pleased to see Mr Corbyn’s choice of coat because it meant he stood out from the crowd that included Vince Cable, Theresa May and John Bercow. Also I dare say it would have protected him from any rain.

So imagine my surprise when I scanned Twitter afterwards and found this:

I did! Fortunately, others had decided to respond before I had a chance, robbing the world of the opportunity to see me letting rip on some poor sap.

Rachael Swindon wrote: “Shocking revelation here. Jeremy Corbyn wore A COAT on a showery day in London today. I think Kev is a bit of a knob.”

So say we all. ‘Gary the opinionated insignificance took it a step further: “Did he do a “jig” on his way there this year or is that lie not being wheeled out this year?”

Remember that silliness? Eoin Clarke does:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1061605175654342656

This year’s wheeze didn’t seem to be working too well, though – as you can probably tell from the results of the poll in the following tweet:

https://twitter.com/jongaunt/status/1061585959815471104

When I voted and checked, it was clear that the majority support Mr Corbyn’s choice of outdoor wear.

So the loonies doubled down. Going back to the image, can you see that Mr Corbyn was sporting a poppy that was considerably smaller than those worn by his fellow wreath-laying political leaders?

I did. I was pleased to see Mr Corbyn’s choice of poppy because I have one very similar to it. They are metal, and cost considerably more than the normal, disposable poppies worn by most of the other bigwigs.

Imagine my surprise when, still scanning Twitter, I found this:

You have to scroll down quite a way to see all the responses to this one.

Rachael Swindon (again) drew the logical conclusion:

I also liked Cllr Cassi Perry’s rejoinder: “As a veteran I say wind your neck in. Ensuring it never happens again is the best way to honour our service and Corbyn is the one fighting hardest for that. And no we don’t care about the size of a bloody poppy. How old are you?!”

How about this from Sandy S? “Guess what, my 96 yr old Dad who flew Lancs in the war has just been to a rememberence parade, wearing the same poppy JC was wearing. Now stick that up your kite and smoke it. PS, he was wearing a raincoat too. You’re a disgrace.

And Clare Hepworth OBE was glowing in her indignation: “Oh for goodness sake! What a puerile , infantile – just plain STUPID comment to make on a day like this! Do you honestly believe that sensible people will take your comment seriously?”

Some focused on the fact that Mr Corbyn’s critics were focusing on the wrong thing. Remembrance Day is about commemorating our war dead and pledging to put an end to wars. Owen Jones tackled the first matter:

And genuine war veteran Harry Leslie Smith made an excellent point that the person standing next to Mr Corbyn in the image (above) is actually making it possible for wars to take place:

Rachael Swindon made it perfectly clear:

Then there’s this:

And Aleesha related it all to a very specific incident taking place as I type this:

By now, the right-wing mainstream media had jumped on the bandwagon and the Daily Mail was kicking up a song and dance:

… only to get exactly what it deserved:

That’s all very amusing.

But it seems there is another reason right-wingers were trying to distract us with nonsense about Mr Corbyn’s choice of clothing. Here’s Richard O’Neill:

He’s absolutely right.

Only the day before the Remembrance parade, Mr Corbyn pledged to put an end to the “scourge” of homelessness among armed forces veterans.

Here‘s the Independent: “Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to end the “scourge” of rough sleeping among armed forces veterans as he calls on Theresa May to officially register the number of homeless ex-servicemen and women.

“The Labour leader will mark the historic occasion by outlining his party’s “social contract” for veterans, including provisions for free education and treating mental health issues as “seriously as physical health issues”.

“He will also call on ministers to use the government’s “long overdue” Veterans Strategy – due to be published later this month – to officially record the number of homeless veterans in the UK, including statistics on those who take their own lives.

“Mr Corbyn said: “The next Labour government will guarantee armed forces personnel the opportunity to have a home, to heal and to retrain when they complete their time in service.

““We will do the right thing by ending the scourge of rough sleeping and helping veterans embark on new careers.””

And this help is desperately needed – under the Tory government, war veterans are more likely to lose their homes than be given one.

According to Mirror Online: “At least 13,000 of our war heroes are homeless after leaving the military, a Sunday People probe reveals.

“Military charities said the shameful figure is a record high and the Government is failing those who risk their lives for Queen and country.

“They also issued a stark warning that the crisis deepens every month.

“Charity bosses say the problem has been made worse by cuts to the armed forces, which has led to almost 30,000 troops losing their jobs since 2010.

“Homeless numbers have soared, despite the Government outlining its duty to serving and former personnel by enshrining the Armed Forces Covenant in law in 2011.

“The covenant says veterans “should have priority status in applying for Government-sponsored affordable housing schemes, and service leavers should retain this status for a period of discharge”.”

It seems all this fuss about Mr Corbyn’s coat is meant to distract us from his commitment to help service veterans who have been failed by the Conservatives.