This week we will take time to reflect 0upon the ultimate sacrifice that men and women have made in the conflicts of the past 100 years. It is the very least we can do to show our respect and gratitude.
We can do more though as a society. This year we should take the opportunity to challenge ourselves to respect our veterans not just for one day or one week, but throughout the year by ensuring veterans and their families are able to transition back to civilian life successfully.
There is no doubt that Westminster can play a crucial role in leading this agenda. The ongoing election campaign provides the chance for the major parties to set out their programme to help former Service personnel – from the infrastructure of support in our health system, to the offer available for re-training, educating and helping veterans find sustainable work which is able to utilise the investment made by our country in their military training. We hope that all parties will actively put forward ideas to further this policy debate as part of the campaign.
At the Officers’ Association, we think it is vital that politicians of all sides champion the skills and abilities that veterans possess to enable British businesses to tap into this resource. Large businesses do recognise and recruit veterans, but there is still more to do to communicate this message to small and medium-sized companies.
A major challenge Service leavers face understanding how to present their skills and experiences to employers in today’s job market. We work with officers as they transition from military to civilian employment and know that most have never needed to pull together a CV or undertake interviews in a commercial setting. By providing veterans with one to one career support we enable them to find employment in roles that ideally build on their military training and skills.
Johnny Clive,33, spent ten years serving in the British Army. Through our consultancy and career events programme, he met the head of KPMG’s military recruitment programme and following several interviews, was subsequently offered a Project Manager role. He is also an Army reservist serving 19 days a year.
It is this engagement with employers that is so important to veteran’s successful transition and one the Office for Veteran’s Affairs can support further; encouraging networks that connect industry experts with veterans, providing incentives to employers that have clear strategies to integrate veterans into their workplace and encouraging as many different types of business to sign the Armed Forces Covenant.
Sustainable employment is fundamental in ensuring our veterans and their families can transition effectively and with dignity into civilian life. Let us make sure that as we wear our poppies with pride, we are working to create a country where military service is respected, and ex-forces personnel are able to thrive.
Whoever wins on the 12th December, the next Government must build on the creation of the Office for Veterans’ Affairs and lead the way to in championing the skills and leadership qualities that our veterans can provide British business.