Friday, 29 October 2010

Put on a poppy

The Saturdays pose with Servicemen at the launch [picture: an West/PA Wire]
The Royal British Legion's 90th Poppy Appeal was launched yesterday with a special focus on the support for the injured, wounded and bereaved members of the 'Afghan generation' of British Armed Forces.

Under the motto, "Put on a poppy", the national Poppy Appeal was launched at Colchester Garrison with a concert from chart-topping pop sensations The Saturdays for families and personnel of 16 Air Assault Brigade which is currently on combat operations in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire visits SPVA

Sir Henry met with staff from the Medals Office

The Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, Sir Henry Elwes KCVO recently visited the SPVA offices at Imjin Barracks to find out more about the work of the MOD Medal Office and Joint Casualty & Compassionate Centre.

During his visit, Sir Henry visited the Elizabeth Cross section where he was able to meet the people who administer the prestigious award. As the Queen’s representative for the county, he has presented crosses to local families on several occasions.

Sir Henry was also given an overview of the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre, highlighting the important work undertaken to ensure families are quickly notified of UK Service casualties wherever and whenever they occur in the World.

Sir Henry Elwes KCVO, Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire said:

“I have enjoyed the opportunity to visit the Medal Office and JCCC and to see the important work they do for our Armed Forces, their families and the Veterans community, particularly in respect of the Elizabeth Cross.”

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Royal British Legion and SPVA ‘attract' Attention from Service families with launch of new fridge magnet

Air Commodore Chris Bray (centre) SPVA Head of Military Operations and Development, with Craftsman Cryans (left), Support Battalion – Allied Rapid Reaction Corp and Petty Officer Knight (Royal Navy), both with their fridge magnets ready for when they deploy to Afghanistan early next year.
SPVA joined forces with The Royal British Legion (TRBL) to produce 252,000 magnetic emergency contact cards for the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC).

The JCCC is the first point of contact for Service families in the event of a family emergency or domestic crisis that requires the return of a Service person from deployments overseas. Service personnel will be familiar with the JPA P001 cardboard card that has been in circulation since JCCC’s formation in April 2005. This small card, about the size of a credit card, provides families with clear and easy to follow guidance on how to contact the JCCC in a crisis or family emergency, such as a sudden illness or accident involving a loved one.

JPA P002 Fridge Magnet

But when feedback from the Services suggested something more durable might be helpful, TRBL and SPVA teamed up to produce a new magnetic version – aptly named the JPA P002. The magnet is easily attached to fridges, washing machines or other metal surfaces so it’s to hand when it’s most needed. Funded by TRBL and distributed by SPVA, the double-sided card also now features website information for TRBL and other organisations providing support for Service families.

The Royal British Legion Director of Welfare, Sue Freeth, said:

“The Royal British Legion is proud to be working in partnership with the MOD to inform the Armed Forces community where to seek help in times of a family crisis.

“The £30k we have invested into the production of fridge magnets will ensure Armed Forces households across the UK have the JCCC’s number stored in a convenient and easily accessible place in case of an emergency.

“The Legion can offer a raft of support to Service personnel and their families when dealing with a death or illness in the family. We can provide advice and guidance on the Armed Forces Compensation scheme, funds to meet immediate needs, online support networks and free independent legal advice to bereaved families.

“It is vital the Service community know who to turn to for support and by working closely with the MOD on this project we’re able to place that advice directly where its needed.”

Air Cdre Chris Bray SPVA Head of Military Operations and Development said:

“My thanks go to TRBL for their support with this initiative. It’s an excellent example of how the MOD and charities like the TRBL can work together to produce something simple but really useful. The JCCC provides a vital function for Service families. I am sure those deployed on operations or overseas will be reassured by the knowledge their loved ones have this information close to hand in the event of a family emergency.”

SPVA’s JCCC is located at Imjin Barracks, Gloucester and provides casualty reporting and compassionate travel services for all three branches of the UK’s Armed Forces. JCCC is manned 24 hours a day/ 365 days a year and makes and receives over 86,000 telephone calls per year.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Latest SPVA podcast launched

The search continues for relatives of those who died at Fromelles

The Agency’s latest podcast explores the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and the continuing search for relatives of those who died at Fromelles during the First World War.

Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery is the newest cemetery constructed by the CWGC and is the final resting place for 250 soldiers who died at the Battle of Fromelles in 1916. These soldiers were recently discovered in a series of communal graves in northern France. The search still continues to find relatives of those soldiers.

The Commission is a not-for-profit organisation established in 1917 and is responsible for marking and maintaining the graves of those members of the Commonwealth Forces who died during the two World Wars.

Ranald Leask, CWGC said, “The podcast is a great way to find out about the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and our recent work at Fromelles. It will provide much-needed awareness of our continuing search to find relatives of those soldiers killed at Fromelles.”

The podcast and other SPVA Social Media products are available to view via the SPVA Social Media Hub.

Pictures copyright Jon Garrett CWGC

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Our Survey Said . . .

I just wanted to let you know reasons why you should be visiting the Veterans-UK website

The SPVA website  holds information that will be of interest to the Armed Forces Community and, if you work as an advisor, may provide you with advice that can help you support veterans.

In a recent survey, more than 300 visitors to the website gave an insight into what they find useful. The results showed:

  • 80% would definitely or probably recommend the site to a friend;
  • The most searched for information is: Service records and medals information, pensions and compensation, Veterans Community information;
  • 76% got some, most or all of what they wanted;
  • 92% were content with how easy they found the site to use (69% good/very good, 23% indifferent); and
  • 95% were content with how clear and easy to understand the site was (74% good/very good, 21% indifferent).
David Johnson, SPVA External Communications Manager, explained the value of the survey:

“We want the Veterans-UK website to be the focal point on the web for accessing information on support for UK ex-Service personnel and their families. The results show the site is well used and valued by most visitors but we want to do more to ensure we are meeting their needs. We’re really pleased that 75% of those completing the survey were veterans themselves. In January 2010 we introduced a new ‘Veterans Community’ area to the site with a ‘news’ section showing latest announcements, discounts and special offers specially for veterans.

“With this in mind, I would ask readers of the SPVA Blog to consider sending us items of interest to the Veterans Community for publishing online.”

If you would like to submit information to be placed on the Veterans-UK site, contact the External Communications Team.

Monday, 11 October 2010

SPVA's newest video cast its eye on history

We've just released the third in a series of videos highlighting a variety of items of interest to the service and veterans community.

In the latest video, presenter Don Goldie looks at the work of the Historic Casualty Casework team, a small, dedicated unit working within the MoD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC).

The Casework team deals with all enquires relating to individual military fatalities outside the recent past and co-ordinates investigations following the discovery of human remains of personnel killed in the First and Second World Wars,. This fascinating work involves attempts to identify the casualty and trace their next of kin or descendants. They then arrange an appropriate military funeral in the country concerned, if that is the wish of the family.

The team have recently been heavily involved in the Fromelles Project which called for their expertise in the identification and reburial of 250 British and Australian troops who were killed during the battle in 1916. The videocast features an interview with Sue Raftree, head of the Fromelles team, who explains the procedures that were undertaken in attempting to identify the remains of those bodies recovered from their original resting place.

Fromelles will also feature in a future SPVA podcast, in which Ranald Leask of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission talks in some detail about the background to the project. Watch out for the release in the next couple of days!