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New report lays bare the grim reality of life after service for Armed Forces veterans

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

4 in 10 armed forces veterans are being forced to turn to food banks in order to survive - according to new research.

Over 1000 veterans - all of whom have left the armed forces due to injury - responded to Hilary Meredith Solicitors’ "Life After Service" survey.

The key findings were:

  • 4 in 10 veterans have been forced to visit a foodbank since leaving the forces.

  • The majority (63%) of veterans do not own their own home.

  • The majority (54%) of those forced into the Appeals process of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme are successful.

  • The majority (82%) of AFCS payments are under £50,000.

  • The vast majority (97%) of veterans feel the government is not doing enough to support them.

  • The majority (62%) of veterans were not actually injured during combat, with injuries more likely to be caused through inadequate training and preparation, procurement of faulty equipment and systemic failings within the military system.

"This research highlights the grim reality of life on Civvy Street for armed forces veterans," said Hilary Meredith-Beckham, founder and Chair of Hilary Meredith Solicitors and Visiting Professor of Law and Veterans’ Affairs at the University of Chester.

"Veterans are being forced to turn to foodbanks. The majority are unable to buy their own home and feel abandoned by the system. They are proud and many do not want to rely on charities for handouts.”

Figures from the Ministry of Defence indicate that 41% of claims to the government's Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS), a no-fault scheme which financially compensates for injury, illness and death caused by service in the UK armed forces, were rejected during the 2021/2022 financial year. Claims are rejected if the harm suffered is not considered serious enough for an award or is not attributable to service.

Service personnel and veterans can appeal if their original claim to the AFCS is rejected - and Hilary Meredith Solicitors' research indicates the majority are forced to appeal, with 54% of appeals successful.

“It is absolutely disgraceful for the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme to reject so many valid claims in the first instance," continued Hilary. "Every year thousands of veterans are forced into a lengthy and protracted appeal process. It's rubbing salt in the wound and has a huge impact on their mental health.”

The research also indicates that the majority of veterans are not injured in combat situations.

“For our servicemen and women to be safer in combat than anywhere else in service is a shameful reflection on life in the armed forces,” said Hilary. “Whilst training for war has to be realistic, change is needed in risk assessing and reducing accident and injury away from the battlefield.”

In order to improve safety standards, the Commons Defence Committee has previously recommended that the MoD should be stripped of its historic immunity from prosecution when personnel are killed during training when there is a serious failing in its duty of care - a recommendation the MoD has refused to accept.

“Immunity from prosecution is preventing defence officials from being properly held to account,” added Hilary. “In continuing to hide behind crown immunity, the MoD is defying the will of a Parliamentary Inquiry and flying in the face of public opinion.”

Damningly, 97% of veterans do not feel the government is doing enough to support them.

“For far too long, our veterans have been cut adrift,” concluded Hilary. “The system is not for purpose.”


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