I beg to move,
That this House
has considered veterans in Handforth.
It is a pleasure to have you chairing this debate, Dame Angela. I thank my right hon. Friend the Minister for listening to the concerns of my Tatton constituents. This topic should and, I am sure, does concern each and every one of us, as it is about the support that we provide to our servicemen and women as they leave the armed forces and prepare for civilian life. I am here today representing veterans and their families in Handforth, who feel “forgotten about”. Those words struck a particular chord. They said that they had served in the armed forces, but when they left service, they felt that there was an abruptness to that end of service and very little help for them to adjust back into civilian life. To be blunt, they have struggled with that transition. Most importantly, they feel that it does not need to be that way. With more structured support, clear signposting and ongoing checks—interestingly, they mentioned to me a check at the seven-year mark—the transition could have been so much easier.
The veterans felt that much greater care and attention was given to the whole process of getting them into the armed forces than was given to them when they left. Removing “the individual” and fitting them into an organisation had a lot of thought put into it, but reversing that process it did not. They explained to me that, on arrival, each was given a number. They would be drilled and trained, and pushed both physically and mentally. It is a form of training that makes them a team and part of a great institution—without doubt one of the best in the world. They were absolutely proud to serve in that institution, but it does become their life. They said that it did become their mind in a way, controlling what they did in their thought processes.
Therefore, my constituents are asking for a similar process in reverse, and with as much thought and consideration, as they step away from the armed forces. To give up life in the armed forces and regain one’s autonomy might sound easy, but it had not been. They had had their time managed and their life controlled, so to now get the freedoms to do what they wanted and fill the hours was actually quite daunting. Without that drilled schedule, without every moment being filled, they felt that time dragged, allowing loneliness and depression to sink into their lives.