A century on, lessons have not been learned
As the nation prepares to acknowledge the fallen in military conflicts, the British government is threatening the survival of disabled war pensioners.
A war pension is not a benefit, it is a military pension, awarded until 2008 to profoundly disabled members of British military forces for their sacrifice and service to the nation. Until 2008 any application for a pension review was acknowledged by the Veterans Agency with a medical examination, conducted by a former military doctor, who provided a detailed medical report on the deteriorating health of the disabled veteran.
Any identified increase in failing health or disability saw an increase in the war pension.
In October 2008 the fatally flawed work capability assessment (WCA) was introduced to assess all claimants of disability benefit, and to resist providing funding to as many as possible as the WCA disregards diagnosis and prognosis. As a consequence, war pensioners applying for a reassessment are confronted by a staff member from a corporate giant, who has no comprehension of military service. Most pensioners are refused any increase in their war pensions, and are warned not to apply again for future reassessment, which will not be considered regardless of failing health.
As the nation’s leaders lay their wreaths at the Cenotaph, war pensioners will be wondering why their generation of disabled veterans are treated with such disregard and total contempt.
War pensioner, former (W)RAF medical service, Wisbech •
The defence minister Tobias Ellwood attended the burial of three unidentified soldiers found near Tyne Cot, and made some appropriate remarks. He also said that “… there is a higher purpose for us to act as a force for good on the world stage”. How does he reconcile this view with the support that the UK is giving to Saudi Arabia in its merciless bombing of civilians in Yemen, including attacks on schools and hospitals? We are providing manpower to assist with targeting and achieving record sales of guided bombs; so much for “force for good”. If his comments are sincere can we look forward to a new moral and ethical defence and foreign policy?
Todmorden, West Yorkshire •
For British soldiers, the postwar period became a question of winning the peace as they returned to find no work and poor living standards. On 31 January 1919 in St George Square, Glasgow, the Clyde Workers’ Committee organised a protest for a 40-hour week and jobs for returning soldiers. It was attacked by police, and the secretary of state for Scotland called it a “Bolshevist uprising”. Some peace.
London • •