We must give back to ex-armed forces personnel

Last week, our CEO, Barry Thompson, chaired an event about the benefits ex-forces personnel can bring to industry.

It was organised by the Federation of Small Businesses in the South East and X-Forces Enterprise, and the event also highlighted the benefits of the Armed Forces Covenant, especially with Armed Forces Day coming up on 29 June.

Barry Thompson me:now CEO chairing FSB panel

Barry Thompson chairing the panel

The key speaker was Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and West Malling (Lieutenant Colonel British Army), alongside Ren Kapur MBE, CEO of X-Forces Enterprise (British Army Reservist).

A panel of experts, consisting of Kate Lole from the Ministry of Defence, Lisa Marr from Barclays (VETS) Veterans Employment Transition Support Programme (British Army), Shaun Micallef-Green of the Rift Group (British Army), joined Ren taking questions from the audience relating to the Armed Forces Covenant.

The top 4 takeaways

1. Not everyone is broken

It’s so important to change the perception that veterans or those transitioning out of service are ‘broken’ in some way or are only good for following orders.

The stereotype that service personnel (serving or veteran) are likely to have PTSD or physical issues not only hampers employment opportunities but also creates a negative bias when we look at supporting those starting their own businesses.

The suggestion that those that have served are only good for following orders, is frankly insulting. Many of them have spent years learning their trades, in more than 300 different roles.

2. The Armed Forces Covenant isn’t just about discounts

The main principle of the Armed Forces Covenant is that the Armed Forces community should not face disadvantages compared to other citizens when it comes to public or commercial services.

The big question here is: Why would they be disadvantaged just by being in the Armed Forces?

In many cases, those that have served will have had many of the basics taken care of, from lodging through to meals and healthcare. They will most likely have travelled around a lot.

Different postings around the country or even the world mean that when the time comes for them to leave service it can be difficult to integrate into a new community. The covenant doesn’t just offer discounts, it’s also practical help which includes having a home

3. A veteran isn’t just someone who has fought in a war

We quite rightly honour those who fought in conflicts around the world, but we must also remember that not everyone has seen combat. Many full-time and reservist members of the forces never saw conflict, but they still served, and we must remember that the covenant benefits them as well.

At this event, there were members of the audience who themselves had served, that had no idea that this level of support was available. There needs to be more events around the country of this nature to highlight the benefits of the Armed Forces Covenant.

4. Businesses must do more

There’s only so much government and charities can do. The wider business community must take a more active role in making sure the valuable skills of ex-servicemen and women aren’t wasted. It’s why we partnered with Veteran Owned and continue to work with other organisations dedicated to shouting about how great veterans are.

We’ve got some exciting news coming in the next few weeks, so follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


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