Military veterans and their families are set to receive extra support from Worthing Borough Council, as part of a pledge to go for a top award from the Ministry of Defence.
The Armed Forces Covenant was set up to ensure that those who serve or have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.
The Council already holds a silver grade, which was awarded for its work to support ex-service men and women across Worthing.
Now it wants to go for gold – by increasing awareness of the issues affecting the armed forces community and encouraging activities to integrate the armed forces community into civilian life.
Steps to support those struggling with housing problems or with their mental health could include setting up breakfast clubs and creating drop-in centres for veterans.
Councillor Dan Humphreys, Leader of Worthing Borough Council, said: “It is vital that across our communities we increase public understanding and awareness of the issues affecting ex-service personnel and their families. We will do our utmost to give them all of the support they may need in civilian life – this award represents the highest badge of honour available to those that employ and support those who serve, veterans, and their families.”
The idea was brought forward in a motion proposed by Councillor Noel Atkins, ward member for Salvington. Cllr Atkins served for 20 years in the Royal Navy Reserves and achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander before supporting the foundation of the Worthing Veterans’ Association.
Cllr Atkins said: “We all have a responsibility to ensure that the armed forces community is treated with fairness and respect in the communities and society they serve with their lives. I was pleased to have the full support of my fellow councillors in setting out the Council’s ambition to obtain Gold status and trust that we will continue to be meaningful advocates for a community which has done so much for others.”
The Association has highlighted the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans and called for increased funds to support those living with the condition.
Over the past year the Council has given the Association free use of Worthing Town Hall’s Gordon Room.