BORIS KEEPS PLEDGE TO HELP VETERANS BY CREATING NEW MINISTERIAL ROLE.
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday announced that Johnny Mercer, the former-Army-officer-turned MP, has been given a ministerial job in the new-look government.
He has been made a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in both the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Cabinet Office.
MP Mercer will work alongside Minister for the Cabinet Office Oliver Dowden and they will jointly oversee a new Office of Veterans’ Affairs.
The Office will work with departments to coordinate and drive government policy on veterans’ welfare, spanning mental and physical health, education and employment.
While we really welcome this news we can’t but help to feel a little suspicious and do not want to celebrate too soon as our trust in politicians is probably at an all-time low, but we can’t deny at the moment they are talking the talk,
We’ve asked two veterans and close friends of the DFLA, Simon Bean MBE from veterans against terrorism and Norman Mcguigan from Minds @ war, who both work tirelessly in different areas of the veterans cause what they think about this promising development, but first this look at what the politicians have had to say.
TALKING THE TALK?
Mr Mercer who served in the Army for 10 years will reportedly be asked to focus on ending the legal pursuit of former service personnel, amid anger in the Conservative party over the treatment of those who served during Northern Ireland’s Troubles.
“It’s taken four years but we finally now have an Office for Veterans’ Affairs in the UK,”
“Our people are indeed our finest asset, and I look forward to my role as the government minister for defence people and veterans.”
“It is absolutely right that the government should do all it can to support our armed forces from the day they enlist and for the rest of their lives.
“Veterans have given so much to the UK.
In a brutal House of Commons attack on the former PM in May, backbencher Iain Duncan Smith said it appeared the Government had;
former service personnel,
while fellow MP Mark accused the Prime Minister of;
“pandering” to the IRA.
Mr Mercer told Mrs May at the time:
“I think the Prime Minister and this House is beginning to understand the level of fury of veterans in this country when it comes to their treatment by this place over the years.”
And he warned that the Government risked creating an
“equivocation between those who got up in the morning to go and murder women and children and civilians and those who donned a uniform to go and protect the crown”.
The newly created Office for Veterans’ Affairs inside the Cabinet Office will be staffed by officials from the Cabinet Office and Ministry of Defence (and others as necessary). The best experts from across Whitehall will now be working together in the Cabinet Office hub on a holistic approach to veterans’ affairs.
Speaking ahead of today’s announcement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“The brave men and women who serve in our military truly represent the pinnacle of British character. We are rightly admired throughout the world for our Armed Forces, and it is a stain on our national conscience that any veteran who has served should be abandoned by the country they have fought so courageously to protect.”
“It is absolutely right that the government should do all it can to support our armed forces from the day they enlist and for the rest of their lives. Veterans have given so much to the UK. They have so much to offer our workplaces and wider society and it would be a dereliction of duty not to harness that potential.
“By taking responsibility for the full gamut of veterans’ civilian lives – from ensuring they get the medical treatment they require, to further training and skills after they have transitioned from service to keep them in good jobs, to targeted interventions to prevent the scourge of veteran homelessness – Oliver Dowden, Johnny Mercer and our brand new Office for Veterans’ Affairs will do just that.
Minister for the Cabinet Office Oliver Dowden said:
“Our veterans have made extraordinary sacrifices for this country and it’s only right that we repay their commitment with the right support and care when they leave service. I’m honoured to take on this role as a champion for veterans across government and will be a voice for their interests at the Cabinet table.”
“The new Office for Veterans’ Affairs will coordinate essential work being carried out across Departments to ensure our servicemen and servicewomen receive unparalleled support across all areas of life. From mental health to employment, this government will deliver the care our veterans deserve.”
CAN THEY WALK THE WALK?
Over the last two years, the DFLA has forged a close relationship with various veteran groups, whether it be highlighting the shocking statistics of PTSD, to the plight of homeless veterans and more recently the unfair treatment of the Gurkhas who are rightfully calling for equal rights and the persecution of soldiers who served in Northern Ireland and we have witnessed first hand the great work the many people involved do on all these matters,
We asked the ‘Maverick veteran’ Simon Bean MBE from veterans against terrorism (VAT) and one of the driving forces behind the veterans movement his take on this major development;
“The combined efforts of the British Veteran community and the DFLA has now resulted in the Government opening up to talking about and acting upon the persecution and prosecution of veterans that are facing a trial without a jury, over alleged crimes during their service on Operation Banner.
Over recent days, Boris Johnson has been installed as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party and has had one of the largest cabinet re-shuffles ever seen. In addition, Mr Johnson has opened up a new dedicated Veterans’ Office. The combined Cabinet Office and Ministry of Defence position of Veterans Minister is to be filled by Mr Johnny Mercer MP.
It is understood, that the Prime Minister has instructed Mr Mercer to prioritise and put an end to the legal witch-hunt against troops and the relentless spurious probes against soldiers, where there is no new compelling evidence, in addition to other issues, such as housing, mental health support and finding work.
As a retired front line officer and soldier himself, Mr Mercer is the perfect man for the task ahead and having spoken with him in the past, is now in the position where he can really make a difference. He is now able to put his point across and make decisions, that no minister has been able to, until now!”
“These are exciting times for the veteran community and I, along with a small hand-picked group of veterans are planning to meet with Mr Mercer and other politicians, early in September. It is expected that our voice will be heard by Mr Mercer and his team, in order that concerns we have maybe rectified to assist servicemen and women transitioning into civvy Street, in addition to aftercare of service personnel. Something which at present, is sadly lacking, encouraging many to enter an ever damaging spiral of hardship, poverty and criminal activity.”
“Only time will tell how this new position will benefit veterans, but it is anticipated that with Johnny Mercer MP at the reigns, with full support from the Paymaster General, Oliver Dowden and the Prime Minister, the new Veterans’ Office will be a huge step in the right direction.”
“A huge amount of appreciation and gratitude must be passed to all members of the DFLA, who have lobbied, protested and voiced their opinion to assist the British Veteran Community in achieving this very important step in the right direction.”
Simon Bean MBE.
Next up we spoke to “Storming” Norman Mcguigan from minds@war who is one man we have huge respect for along with his team who work 24 hours a day to offer support for Veterans with PTSD,
Stormin Norman (Fighting for Veterans Rights . Founder of Minds@ War )
This is what Norman had to say on the announcement from Boris Johnson’s
“In my opinion, I have always said when others have slated Johnny Mercer he is the man for the top job,”
“Having been in a few meetings with him including sitting in on one of the biggest veterans debates he battled relentlessly for many issues relating to veterans and current serving personnel.”
“I and the Minds@War team still have a few dates in which we will be meeting Johnny again.”
“The new prime minister has said that he would strive to correct Armed forces issues such as NI prosecutions and I have no doubt with Johnny Mercer working by his side both will deliver.”
“One understands that change will NOT be seen overnight and both ministers must be given a chance to make those changes”
One thing is for sure, going forward we will all not let up in putting the pressure on and will not be taking our foot off the peddle until legislation is set in stone and our ex-servicemen and women are treated with the respect they deserve.
We notice the red top tabloids scrambling to take credit for this development but the only people who deserve it are the veterans from all the many different groups like VAT, veterans for veterans, Never Surrender, Rolling thunder, Veterans and Peoples Party and Justice for Northern Ireland veterans to name a few, which are led by determined people like Dan McDevitt, Dean Cumberbatch, Robin Horsfall and many others, and we are confident that their goals will be achieved,
More demonstrations are planned starting with one this Saturday, 3rd of August in Swansea organised by ‘Never surrender’
details can be found here;
This is followed by another demo in Liverpool on August 10th and later in the year, there is operation Zulu in London.
TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER!