Wednesday, 11 November 2009

"Time to respect our veterans" says Carwyn

A candidate in the Welsh Labour Leadership election, has today made a pledge to ensure improved and better co-ordinated services are delivered for armed forces veterans from Wales, in the future.

Carwyn Jones, the Bridgend AM, will make his remarks on Armistice Day - which commemorates the anniversary of the end of the First World War on 11th November 1918.

Paying tribute to Wales's sons and daughters who are currently serving their country in conflict, peacekeeping and reconstruction roles right across the world, Carwyn said more needs to be done to support those who have left the forces, re-integrate better into civilian life, once their service days are over.

In his statement, Carwyn said:

"Whilst the overall responsibility for veterans is a non-devolved matter, the respect and admiration shown by the people of Wales for those who have served so bravely in our armed forces, knows no bounds.

"Much of the ongoing help and assistance required by veterans in communities all over Wales, is provided for by the Welsh Assembly Government in partnership with the UK Government and its agencies. For example, we recently helped current armed forces from Wales, by placing them on the same financial footing as those from Scotland and England, when it comes to receiving reductions in the amount of council tax they pay.

"Veterans and their families require access to advocacy and support services, such as housing, which are funded by the Assembly Government and we have an important initiative underway here. Other people require continuing medical help, such as mental health services, as a direct result of serving their country. NHS Wales provides ongoing treatment for many veterans, of all ages, who suffer from conditions such as depression, anxiety, substance misuse and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"The role we play as a Government is large and growing. We have a responsibility to make sure that role delivers the best possible services for those who depend on them and we do it with a more co-ordinated approach than at present.

"For example, the economic downturn has affected employment prospects for many people across Wales. However, for those who may have been injured whilst in the service of their country, the chances of getting work are made even harder. I want the Welsh Assembly Government to work with Welsh employers to see what steps can be taken to harness and utilise the skills gained by veterans during their service years. We must look at ways of helping injured ex-forces personnel back into work, once they are back in 'civvy-street'.

"I pledge to work with the UK Government, its Service Personnel & Veterans Agency, the Royal British Legion and other groups who support veterans, to see what further help the Welsh Assembly Government can provide in the future, to bring about the necessary change.

"In the first instance, I will seek to establish an expert group to examine how the services we pay for, can be improved and better co-ordinated within Wales, to deliver help and assistance where it is most needed. I want to see a more formal response to these challenges developed within Government in Cardiff Bay - a response that will ensure that our former and current armed services personnel are given the respect they deserve."


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