Neil Guild, the Labour candidate for Taunton Deane at the next General Election and a former soldier, is calling on the government to improve support and opportunities for service veterans.
“Taunton has had a long and proud association with Armed Forces and in particular with 40 Royal Marine Commando. With Armed Forces Day last weekend it’s important we continue to honour the sacrifices of our armed forces, both past and present, and of those currently serving overseas in Afghanistan. It’s also important that we recognise that the vast majority of service men and women go on with their lives after their time in service and that we provide a fit society to support them when they do so.”
“This was brought home to me when I spent an evening with the Taunton Street Pastors. I was deeply concerned by the number of homeless people I met who had an armed forces background. While Armed Forces Day helps to highlight the vital role of service men and women, the issues veterans face in civilian life are year-round, complex and often hidden from the public.”
Number of Homeless veterans has increased
“Sadly the number of homeless veterans has increased over the past six years with research in 2013 by the Daily Mirror estimating that nationally some 9.000 ex-service men and women are currently homeless. While the Forces charities play an excellent role in supporting veterans in difficulty more can still be done by government and local authorities to address this problem. That is where I will be focusing my efforts.”
Research carried out for The Royal British Legion estimated that under the last Labour government the number of ex-forces rough sleepers in London reduced from 4,000 in 1997 to just 1,100 in 2008. It also found that homeless veterans were on average older, had slept rough for longer, were less likely to use drugs, but more likely to have alcohol-related problems than typical rough sleepers. The clear majority were found to be male and ex-Army rather than from the Royal Navy or Royal Air Force.
“Most service men and women serve for no more than 5 years. Everyone inevitably has to return to civilian life. Many are deeply damaged by their time in uniform – either due to life changing injuries or from the mental scars of conflict. Even those who are fortunate enough to come through unscathed must deal with the difficult transition process of entering civilian life. Routine is lost, but as importantly a sense of worth that comes from putting on a uniform.”
“As a former soldier I struggled with this transition myself which is why I will be campaigning over the coming year to improve access to care, services, housing and jobs for former service men and women.”
For further information contact:
Neil Guild, Labour Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Taunton Deane, on 07950700872
Neil Guild on operations in Baghdad, Iraq in 2004.