The Armed Forces community is made up of:
- serving personnel (both Regular and Reserve)
- their families
- military veterans
- the bereaved
In Scotland, there are around 15,000 serving personnel and reservist personnel. It's estimated that the veteran's population, which includes all former national service personnel, is around 260,000 (as of 2014).
Veterans have a number of health rights which are unique to them. To help veterans better understand their rights and the resources available to them, we've compiled a useful list below.
Under long-standing arrangements since 1953, war pensioners are given priority NHS treatment for the conditions for which they receive a war pension or gratuity, unless there is an emergency case or another case that demands clinical priority. These priority treatment provisions were then extended to all veterans who have a condition that is likely to be related to their service.
As a result, veterans should receive priority treatment for health problems as a result of service to their country, unless there is an emergency case or another case that demands clinical priority.
Veterans should not be given priority treatment for conditions unrelated to service in the armed forces.
It is recognised that, with much faster access to NHS treatment for all patients, the priority treatment provisions are less significant than they were in the past. However, as set out in the Scottish Government report Renewing Our Commitments (PDF, 967KB) where a person has a health problem as a result of service to their country, it is right that they should get priority access to NHS treatment, based on clinical need.
The Scottish Government and the Ministry of Defence are aware that confusion can arise when “priority treatment” is interpreted as “preferential treatment”. The Scottish Government is working together with MoD and Veterans organisations in Scotland to provide information which clarifies this issue.
Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS)
The AFCS can be accessed by any veteran or serving personnel with a service-related condition or injury on or after 6th April 2005 regardless of whether it occurred in connection with hostilities. However, the individual must apply for the scheme no later than 7 years after sustaining the injury or illness, unless claiming for an illness that started later (sometimes known as a 'late onset illness').
The AFCS can be claimed while in active service.
More about the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
War Pension Scheme (WPS)
The WPS includes the War Disablement Pension and can be accessed by any veteran with a service-related condition or injury before 6th April 2005 regardless of whether it occurred in connection with hostilities.
This WPS can only be claimed after discharge.
More about the War Disablement Pension
Veteran Welfare Service (VWS)
The VWS is provided by Veterans UK to support veterans, and their dependants, eligible to claim for the AFCS or War Disablement Pension. Help and guidance can be given through either telephone contact or dedicated visiting service.
Find out about the Veteran Welfare Service on the Veterans UK website, or find relevant contact details through the GOV UK website.
The Service Personnel and Veterans Agency became part of the VWS in 2014.
All personnel on leaving the Services are offered an F Med 133 proforma summarising significant medical history, immunisation and screening status and current medication, for onward transmission to their civilian primary care practitioner.
Requests for personal data and service records of veterans’ will be provided by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) on completion and return of the relevant forms. You must supply proof of identification when returning these forms. Records can be supplied to a healthcare provider on receipt of the veteran’s signed consent.
Citizens Advice Scotland
The Armed Services Advice Project (ASAP) is a service delivered by Citizens Advice Scotland to provide dedicated information, advice and support to members of the Armed Forces Community in Scotland.
You can call their helpline for free on 0808 800 1007 (Monday to Friday, from 9.00 AM to 5.00 PM).
The following charities provide support for veterans and their families in the UK:
The following sites provide a wide range of information and services for veterans:
- Veterans UK - is the official website of the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency
- Veterans Assist Scotland - is an online resource to help personnel and their families leaving the Armed Forces, veterans in need of support and members of the public looking for information on veterans organisations in Scotland