MoD could lose responsibility for veteran care after backlash

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The Ministry of Defence could be stripped of responsibility for veterans after a survey found some were made to feel like criminals and had even contemplated suicide.

Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer is understood to be pushing for the Cabinet Office to take full responsibility. The issue is now shared between the two government departments.

A survey by the All-Party Parliamentary Group of Veterans exposed miserable experiences of veterans trying to make a claim under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.

The scheme is administered by Veterans UK, an agency in the MoD.

The survey found 75 percent rated their experience as poor, while 84 percent said not enough consideration had been given to their mental or physical health.

One respondent said: “The process has broken me mentally to the point where my choice was walk away or commit suicide.”

Another said: “You feel like a criminal. There’s no compassion whatsoever.”

After the survey received 1,040 responses, the all-party group, chaired by Conservative MP James Sunderland and Labour MP Stephanie Peacock, is to write to ministers demanding a review of the agency.

Mr Mercer has told the group that the UK should follow Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand, which have all moved responsibility out of defence departments.

Veterans in dispute with the MoD should be able to turn to an agency in a different government department for support, he said.

Mr Mercer did three tours of Afghanistan, retiring in 2013 with the rank of captain.

Mr Sunderland is arguing for a veterans’ ombudsman “who is independent and can ensure veterans are treated correctly”.

The MoD said the compensation scheme is under review. It added: “This will ensure it remains fit for purpose and opportunities for improvement are identified. We will consider all of the recommendations once this has been published.”

In the 2021 Census, 1.85 million people in England and Wales said they were veterans.

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