‘Our way of saying thank you’

Alasdair Hutton (left), SBC convener and Colonel Martin Gibson, chairman of Veterans Scotland at the launch the veterans handbook at SBC HQ.
Alasdair Hutton (left), SBC convener and Colonel Martin Gibson, chairman of Veterans Scotland at the launch the veterans handbook at SBC HQ.

IN the week that many people across the region will remember those who lost their lives while bravely fighting for their countries, Scottish Borders Council has launched the first fully comprehensive guide for service veterans coming to settle in the area.

Council Convener and Veterans Champion Alasdair Hutton, who chaired the group preparing the handbook, presented the first copy to the Chairman of Veterans Scotland Colonel Martin Gibson in the Council Chamber on Monday, November 7.

Speaking at the ceremony, Councillor Hutton said: “We see a lot on television about the return of coffins from combat and on our own streets we have been happy to honour the servicemen and women who have returned from active duty to receive the thanks of a grateful Border community.”

“But the people who leave Her Majesty’s Forces after years of service to this country do not make the news. They slip out of uniform and into the community without ceremony and often they are baffled by having to adapt to a way of life they hardly know. Many have spent longer in uniform than they have out of it and civilian life is a really tough challenge.”

Councillor Hutton said that at a time when our thoughts turn to all those who have served and particularly to those who have given their lives, Scottish Borders Council think it right that the region should also be doing something practical for the people whose service is finished and now have to adapt themselves to fit back into the society they left to put themselves in harm’s way to serve us all

He continued: “The handbook contains what we believe is all the basic information a serviceman or woman will need to get started if they are coming to settle here on their own or with a family. To underline the point we have called the handbook ‘Civilian Life in the Scottish Borders’.”

The booklet, which Councillor Hutton described as “our way of saying thank you and welcome home to the men of women of our armed services” is divided into seven sections covering Housing, Employment, Health, Education, Welfare, Community Involvement and Useful Contact Numbers.

In each section the services specifically available for service veterans are highlighted as well as the general information which applies to everyone in the area.

Copies of the full handbook will be distributed to SBC libraries and contact centres, to Citizens’ Advice Bureaux, to the branches and clubs of the Royal British Legion Scotland, to the case workers of The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association, doctors’ surgeries, Citizens’ Advice Bureaux and anywhere else which would be valuable source of advice for veterans.

There will be a smaller leaflet for the service leavers which will give them a signpost that the information is available and where they can go to look for it.

The handbook will be on line on the SBC website and anyone who would like a copy can download it for themselves.