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Thursday, November 8, 2018

AM calls for veterans' contribution to be honoured

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has called on the National Assembly for Wales to honour the contribution of those who have served and continue to serve in our Armed Forces.

Leading the Welsh Conservative Debate on Wales’ Armed Forces Communities, Mr Isherwood (pictured) said that “Remembrance could, should and does belong to all of us - whatever our politics, ethnicity or faith”.   

He also spoke of his concern about the delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant in Wales, highlighting the "inconsistencies veterans and their families have faced when accessing health care".
Speaking in the Chamber, Mr Isherwood raised these concerns when responding to a statement by the Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services.

He said: “The Armed Forces Covenant states that no-one who has served in the Armed Forces should face disadvantage and, in specific circumstances, can expect special consideration in regard to their NHS Care.
"Despite this, however, veterans and their families have faced inconsistencies when accessing health care in Wales, with the third and charitable sectors often having to deliver the specialist and rehabilitation services.  
“Only Abertawe Bro Morganwg [health board] has a dedicated budget for veterans. In the last three financial years £242,000 has been allocated there, but the six remaining health boards only use core allocations to fund veterans' needs.  

“Only Aneurin Bevan, Cardiff and Vale, Powys and Hywel Dda Health Boards have adopted the Welsh Government 2017 Guidance in full – and, worryingly, Betsi Cadwaladr stated that it was only adhering to Welsh Government guidance published in 2008, three years before the Covenant was published."

He added: “Endorsed by the Armed Forces Community and Armed  Services heads, the review by the Cross Party Group on Armed Forces and Cadets found that in order to uphold the Covenant, the Welsh Government should consider the appointment of an Armed  Forces Commissioner for Wales to improve the accountability of public sector  organisations for the delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant."
Mr Isherwood also referred to “Change Step”, a support and peer-mentoring service provided by veterans for veterans seeking help for mental health, loneliness or addiction problems, led by North Wales based Charity CAIS, and the challenges it faces because of its reliance on bid funding.       

Stressing that housing is key to veterans and their families, Mr Isherwood referred to the ambitious self-build project for veterans in  Wrexham, the third residence in North Wales to be managed by Wales Homes for Veterans.

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