Veterans: Handforth

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:00 am on 6 September 2023.

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Photo of James Sunderland James Sunderland Chair, Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill, Chair, Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill 11:00, 6 September 2023

I commend my right hon. Friend for her excellent speech. I am a serviceman. I left the Army in 2019 with no resettlement and no termination but through choice, to become a candidate for the Conservative party. I do not regret it, but having gone through that process and been left on a cliff edge with that immediate loss from the Department, I would say to my right hon. Friend that I empathise greatly with all the concerns raised by veterans. I am also chair of the all-party parliamentary group on veterans, and my experience of veterans, having left the Army myself, is that the issue in most cases is not that veterans once served, it is that they are no longer serving. There is a distinction.

We have highlighted a number of issues today, and I wish to make two points very quickly. First, as Jim Shannon said, there are a lot of agencies, charities and organisations that can help, such as RBL and SSAFA. I would urge everyone to make contact with them. I would also want to see the MOD, with the Minister in his place, doing a catch-up, reaching out a bit more to those who have left and having that single point of contact or repository, whereby people do not feel quite so isolated from the organisation they served. Yes, there is a plethora of support out there, but a bit more from the MOD for those who have left the forces would be welcome.