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Armed Forces Covenant

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:25 pm on 2nd February 2017.

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Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows SNP Whip 3:25 pm, 2nd February 2017

May I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention, lengthy though it was, and say that I appreciate the work that his constituent is doing?

I should also add at this point that an unfortunate few ex-service personnel do come in contact with the Scottish criminal justice system, which is also different. What may not be immediately apparent to the service leavers is the different approach to government in Scotland—I am talking about identifying which agencies have responsibility for the delivery of public services and what to expect in the way of support. Beyond the devolved public services, it must be remembered that Scotland also has several other characteristics that provide a different context for service leavers. Of those, perhaps the most important is the distinct nature of the third sector that provides vital support to the ex-service community.

We are also lucky in Scotland to have, across all sectors, a growing network of veterans’ champions who are dedicated to reinforcing the values of the armed forces covenant, and a private sector that is just starting to see the benefits of recruiting service personnel and their partners.

I was especially struck by the reference in the Scottish Veterans Commissioner’s third report, “The Veterans Community: Employability, Skills and Training”, published in November last year, in which he described how he met two students at Glasgow Caledonian University who had previously served in the military. They were early service leavers, who can face additional stresses on returning to civilian life. Both were inspiring characters, but one in particular left a lasting impression as he described the challenges that he faced during a short and troubled spell in the Army and a difficult transition into civilian life. He subsequently received vital support from the statutory sector, charities and the academic community—