HC Deb 17 September 2003 vol 410 c51WS
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence(Mr. Ivor Caplin)

I am announcing the publication of a new report entitled "Improving the Delivery of Cross Departmental Support and Services for Veterans", which my department commissioned from King's College London last year. The publication of this study demonstrates the commitment of the Government as a whole to the Veterans Initiative through the participation of a working group which included members from the Department of Health, Home Office, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Her Majesty's Treasury, Department for Work and Pensions and veterans organisations. The aim was to produce a map of veterans' needs, with emphasis on the more vulnerable veterans, match this against current provision and identify priority research gaps. This involved a literature survey, detailed interviews with 'at risk' personnel, and analysis and further interviews of an existing cohort of personnel for ex-Service outcomes.

This study is a preliminary scoping study and will inform the direction of policy and research. It therefore represents an important contribution to the Veterans Initiative. The report conclusions confirm that For many (indeed most) personnel military life is a great leveller; it is a positive experience (especially for disadvantaged youths who enter service early), allowing them to enjoy a more favourable life trajectory", and that Over three quarters of service leavers do well and gain employment after leaving".

The report finds that there is little peer-reviewed published UK literature on outcomes of veterans, and that most published research concerns US Service and ex-Service personnel, from which it would be inaccurate to draw extrapolations. It also shows that mental health is an important issue—most personnel do not develop problems as a result of their Service, but the small percentage that do can face a range of difficulties in civilian life, including access to appropriate treatment.

The Government welcome this report and would like to thank Professor Wessely and his team for their work. The report recommends a number of actions, as well as further research on ways to help the most vulnerable groups. I can confirm that we will look in detail at these recommendations and will evaluate them against existing policies and activities.

A copy of the full report will be placed in the Library of the House, and also on the websites of the MOD and Veterans Agency, at http://www.mod.uk/ and http:// www.veteransagency.mod.uk.

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