Nigel Hare, OA’s Director of Operations, shares his insight as a former Royal Navy Commander.
I was delighted to attend the Cobseo AGM along with many other members of the military charity sector. We were promised a ‘protein rich’ agenda by Sir John McColl, Chairman, and he and his team certainly delivered.
Highlights for me were the presentation given by Jenna Clare, Joint Head of the Armed Forces Covenant Team in the MOD, and Tobias Ellwood, Minister for Defence People and Veterans. There seemed to be a genuine desire to improve the recognition of veterans. I had first hand experience of how the USA treats its Service personnel, having served there post 9/11. The first time I went shopping in uniform, the queue of people waiting at the checkout moved to one side and allowed me to move to the front. My family and I were granted many concessions during our time in America. Simply put, I felt valued. I was heartened then to hear the passionate commitment from both Jenna and Tobias of the initiatives to improve the support offered and recognition given to our veterans.
It was encouraging to learn that the Prime Minister is championing the veterans’ cause through the Ministerial Covenant and the Veterans’ Board and, in particular, that a new Veterans’ Strategy has been initiated. The strategy will be open for consultation and this will be a great opportunity for us in the military charity sector to have a voice and influence.
The Officers’ Association is planning to follow on from its work last year with Deloitte and the Forces in Mind Trust on Veterans Work. The report indicated that employers who hire veterans were able to evidence real commercial benefit from their recruitment.
The proposed follow-on work this year is, amongst other things, to provide policy makers with recommendations for how veteran data capture might be improved and to establish a map of employer need alongside veteran employment aspiration. This work would be of interest to the Veterans’ Strategy.
My sense is that in Tobias Ellwood, the veteran and military charity sector have someone who not only believes in what he is doing, but also cares. It’s also heartening to see the government looking beyond Brexit at a strategy to support an important part of our nation’s fabric. It was, I believe, testament to the Minister’s commitment to the Veterans’ cause and the military charity sector, that he found time to attend the Cobseo AGM despite the obvious pressures in government. His commitment to providing veterans with an ID card is clear and welcome.
The interests of veterans, like the World Cup for England, may not be coming home immediately, but the will and capacity to make both happen are now firmly in place.
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