thank you veterans Heather Stillufsen

Heather Stillufsen

No matter what your politics (pacifist or a supporter of our Armed Forces), it pays to know that many veterans often end up living in poverty and sometimes homeless. Most are elderly or disabled (or both) and frequently have mental health problems, often scarred by wars they have witnessed. Here are a few simple ideas to help this often-forgotten sector of society.

register for benefits (and possible compensation)

First of all, ensure veterans are receiving all their benefits, including disabled benefits (which often entitles them to other benefits like allowances to upgrade to better wheelchairs, especially important for amputees).

You can claim for compensation if you were made disabled (or have mental health issues) while serving in the Armed Forces (including the reserve forces). Paid as a lump sum or regular payments, you can also claim if you were victim of a violent crime while serving abroad, under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

Many ex-veterans have dogs (sometimes adopted from abroad). So if they are now elderly or disabled, join dog-walking volunteering schemes to help give their pooches a nice outing, enabling them to stay with their human guardians.

find free help from charities for veterans

There are a number of organisations that offer free help and support for veterans, from help for mental health and housing to financial help.

  1. Combat Stress is a charity offering mental health to veterans and ex-veterans either in-person or online, with a 24-hour helpline for veterans and their families. They primarily help people with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), depression, anxiety, anger and alcohol/substance misuse.
  2. Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund offers financial help for members and ex-members of the RAF,  plus help for carers and disabled-friendly holidays.
  3. Help for Heroes has a phone helpline to offer a wide range of support, whether you need financial, benefits or housing help, or simply need a listening ear, if you are recovering from mental health issues or disability.
  4. Blind Veterans UK offers bespoke help to make the most of remaining vision, mobility training, learning independent living skills and staying connected.
  5. Veterans’ Gateway offers 24/7 support for housing, finances and mental health (by phone, chat, text or email) and can also make referrals.
  6. SSAFA (the Armed Forces Charity) again offers free help for all of the above, plus support for families who have veteran relatives in custody or on probation, an overseas community health services and specialist Nepali language services for members of the Brigade of Gurkhas and their families.

chose metal pin poppies instead

The standard plastic red poppy with green stem has now been replaced by a paper version, partly made with recycled coffee cups, but also made partly with new virgin paper. This is far better than plastic, but even better is to spend a little more on a reusable poppy pin, to save on resources.

Some people also choose to buy metal pin ‘white poppies’ (funds support peace organisations – worn since the 1930s, this is not a political statement, simply a way to ask governments to not always choose war as the first resort). Others choose to wear purple poppies in remembrance of animals killed in wars, with profits helping service animal retirement charities. You can find both these alternatives in peace cafe and many local communities (say churches).

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