A CAMPAIGN was launched today to help young Armed Forces ‘veterans’ who are ‘forgotten’ by society.
The SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, says it has helped more than 800 working-age former service personnel in Yorkshire in the past 12 months.
But it has many more struggle to make a successful transition from life in the Army, Royal Air Force or Royal Navy to life in civilian society.
The SSAFA says that it is launching its ‘Got Your Back’ campaign to encourage vulnerable veterans of working-age across Yorkshire, to come forward for help.
Sir Andrew Gregory, chief executive of the SSAFA, said: “SSAFA understands that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen are resilient characters.
“While serving the nation they become fitter, more robust and more self-sufficient; they are rightly proud of their role and of themselves.
“However, for those individuals and for their families who find the transition out of the Armed Forces difficult, some are then too proud to ask for help.
“The aim of SSAFA’s Got your Back campaign is simple and the message is clear: Those who have served this country and those who have supported them have protected our backs; don’t be too proud now to ask us to protect yours. Please call us.”
SSAFA says that it exists to help all veterans and their families; its recent research identified a number of working-age veterans across the UK, aged 16 to 64, who are living in considerable hardship.
Amongst this cohort, 54 per cent said they did not have enough money for essential items and more than four out of ten said they could not afford daily living expenses.
However, too often these individuals and their families are either too proud to ask for help or don’t know where to turn, or both.
The SSAFA has four branches in Yorkshire – North, East, South and West – which are four of the charity’s 92 volunteer-run, local branches across the globe.
The four Yorkshire branches have supported 821 people so far this year.
Of these 278 were in West Yorkshire, 228 were in South Yorkshire, another 198 in North Yorkshire and 117 were in East Yorkshire. SSAFA believes there are many more local veterans who would benefit from, but are not asking for help.
While most Service leavers make a successful transition to civilian life, some younger veterans are experiencing serious social and financial difficulties and are reliant on food banks while others have ended up homeless or in prison.
One Yorkshire veteran, David Swift, 40, joined the Army aged 17 and found it hard to adjust to civilian life.
“In the space of a year I went from being a healthy young man in a great regiment to someone sitting in a park wondering what the point of my life was,” he said.
“You need help, but your pride is too important to you.
“You go from being this soldier everyone respects to being the lowest of the low.
“You do everything in your power not to ask for help.
“Sometimes you think your family would be better off without you.”
The SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity (formerly known as the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen & Families Association), provides lifelong support to anyone who is currently serving or has ever served in the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force including reservists, and their families.