Baffled Veterans Call for Overhaul of Benefits System as Government Blocks Investigation

Feeling let down by a government decision not to investigate the war pension and armed forces compensation scheme, ex-Armed Forces members have started a petition

Veterans and serving members of the Armed Forces gather at Fort William, Scotland on November 12, 2017 to commemorate and pay tribute to the sacrifices of servicemen and women who fought in both world wars and subsequent conflicts
The government has ignored calls from veterans and lawmakers for an independent review

Post-government veterans are demanding a change in their benefit systems ignored calls from MPs for a full inquiry.

The current veterans performance systems have been criticized for their long wait times, high rejection rates, low payouts, and lengthy appeals process.

The system is designed to help veterans, but many say it drives them to poverty, worse health and, sadly, even suicide.

Former members of the armed forces are entitled to benefits if they were physically or mentally damaged in the service.

Anyone reporting incidents prior to April 6, 2005 may claim War Pensions. After that they have to go to the Compensation Office of the Armed Forces (AFCS).

Both are run by Veterans UK, part of the Ministry of Defence.

Last month MPs won a debate Call for an enquiry into the AFCS and war pension schemes.

The debate was brought by SNP MP Owen Thompson, whose longtime constituent Garry McDermott has struggled for 10 years to get the right amount of war pension.

Thompson said the current system is a “national scandal that should make us all hang our heads in shame.”

But yesterday Secretary of Defense Leo Doherty said there would be no review.

In a written response to Owen Thompson, Doherty said: “There are no plans to investigate the process of war pensions or AFCS payments.

“The existing process remains effective, fit for purpose and functions satisfactorily.

“When issues are identified, the Department of Defense commits to addressing them and remedial action is taken quickly to ensure the process remains as efficient, transparent and emphatic as possible.”

Many veterans trying to access these payments say they have to wait a long time for their request to be heard, only to be denied or not receive enough money.

They then have to face lengthy and difficult battles to fight their case in court, which often fails.

Now veterans say they feel let down by the government’s decision and have started a petition to get a full investigation.

The petition states: “The ongoing misconduct and mistreatment of the military community is a well-documented fact. Veterans have stated that due to a lack of action and empathy from these authorities, they have had thoughts of self-harm and, in some cases, suicide.

“The system has to be completely revised from top to bottom. It has to be fair, open and transparent at every point.”

That Petition can be signed here .

McDermott, 47, a Royal Scots veteran, said: “I’m absolutely beside myself. The whole thing is a mess.

Ian Hewitt, 43, is a former RAF officer cadet who now gets an 80 per cent war pension but had to fight hard to get it – and was initially awarded between 6 and 14 per cent.

He said: “I’m amazed. They fundamentally didn’t understand what people are going through and the department marks their own homework.

“There’s also a lot of people out there who think if they complain or make a fuss they’ll be blacked out by Veterans UK.”

John Topping was until recently a member of the Veterans’ Advisory and Pensions Committee, a government-appointed but independent body dedicated to assisting veterans leaving the armed forces.

Topping said: “We need a high profile Rottweiler guy to push this and support us. This requires a request.”

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