Friday, 26 November 2010

SPVA now on Flickr

We are now on Flickr! 

It's in the early days of development so we just have a few images up already in SPVA collection alongside other Defence images.  The images plus supporting text will give you a visual idea of the work SPVA undertakes to support the Armed Forces Community: Serving personnel, veterans and their families.

Flickr is an image and video hosting website, web services suite, and online community it is also a popular website for users to share and embed personal photographs and social media

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Laughter is the best medicine

free copies of the book have been sent to troops serving in Afghanistan
If you're compiling your Christmas gift list, want to raise money for charity or find a fun present for someone you know, then The Laughing Soldier Jokebook might be right up your street.

Project 65 - The Veterans Charity have produced a collection of jokes and messages of support for the British Armed Forces serving around the world.

Jokes have been sent in by people all over the world, including Service Personnel, veterans and their families, the general public and famous figures including Alan Titchmarsh and George Osbourne.

A donation from the sale of each book will go to the charity to help them continue with their work in funding the vital care and support of the Armed Forces Community and establish new initiatives to offer more support to those who need it most. 

The book, priced at £6.99 and published by Casemate,  goes on sale from 26th November and will be available from Project 65, Casemate, all good bookshops and online retailers.

The book includes a foreword from triple amputee former Royal Marine Mark Ormrod which highlights how important humour is for Service Personnel:

Being able to tell a joke or "crack a funny" when morale is low can help even the worst of situations seem that little bit better...

Here's a taster of what the book has to offer . . .

The book is split into sections to suit all comedic tastes

Friday, 12 November 2010

A small badge of recognition

When you're attending Remembrance events or celebrating Armed Forces Day, you may have noticed a small emblem on jacket lapels alongside the medals worn by veterans.

Introduced in 2004, the HM Armed Forces Veterans Lapel Badge promotes recognition of veterans.  To date, over 800,000 badges have been issued.

Veterans Lapel Badges ready for presentation

It's issued to all those who served in HM Armed Forces including Volunteer and Regular Reserves.

The full list of eligibility criteria is listed on our website.  To apply for a badge, you can download an application form or call our freephone helpline - 0800 169 2277.

If you interested in finding out more about the lapel badge, then check out our video below.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Remember the fallen

Two online ‘Books of Remembrance’ have been launched, commemorating all those members of the armed forces who have died serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Visitors can post memories, pictures and anecdotes about each individual, forming a record of the sacrifices made by Armed Forces personnel and their families that is accessible to all. The tribute books are supported by the three armed services’ charities: the RAF Benevolent Fund, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.

The creator, Jonathan Haward, has provided brief biographies for many of the fallen, but wants the general public to make their own contributions by visiting the online books. In this way he hopes the online tributes will form a broader public testament to the bravery and sacrifice of Britain’s military.

Jonathan Haward, creator of the online 'Books of Remembrance'
Jonathan has strong personal reasons for wanting to create the online spaces:

“My mother worked in a radar station during the Battle of Britain, directing fighter planes to intercept the enemy. The RAF was an important part of her life and holds a special place in the heart of our family. Both of my elder brothers, Chris and David, became pilots. Sadly David was killed on exercise 11 years ago, shortly after being appointed a Station Commander.

Jonathan's mother, who worked in a radar station during the Battle of Britain

“A few years ago a friend emailed me some pictures of my brother that I had never seen. I forwarded these to my relatives and they brought such joy that it inspired us to set up  website where families can leave tributes to departed loved ones, post images and share memories. The Books of Remembrance are a logical extension of this idea, giving everyone the chance to take an interactive, personal approach to Armistice Day. It’s also an opportunity to raise awareness of the three Service charities and their vital work."
Jacqui Thompson, whose husband Gary died in Afghanistan, has shared her memories in the online tribute

Jacqui Thompson lost her husband Gary in 2008. He was killed at the age of 51 whilst serving as a reservist in the RAF Regiment, when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. Jacqui has added her own pictures and memories to Gary’s page in the Afghanistan Book of Remembrance and encourages others to do the same:

“Since I lost Gary all I have are cherished memories – that’s why Remembrance is so important to me. The online Books of Remembrance are a lovely way of keeping Gary alive - recognising his actions and collecting together my memories, and those of all the people that knew him. It helps to keep him with us, in our hearts.”

Please take time to visit the books during this time of Remembrance.

Monday, 8 November 2010

A nation remembers

The poppy, the recognised emblem for Remembrance Sunday

At this time of year, you'll notice a splash of red adorning winter coats, suit jackets, dresses . . .  The poppy - an emblem of remembrance and recognition of those who have given their lives in the service of their country. 

The 11th November was the date the armistice was signed at 11.00am in 1918, bringing an end to the First World War.  In the years that followed, this date and the second Sunday of November, Remembrance services were and are held across the country.

Poppies are produced by the Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland. Both raising awareness and funds for the Armed Forces Community.

Our website holds information about the history of  Remembrance Sunday that you might also find interesting.


Thursday, 4 November 2010

Looking behind the headlines

SPVA Podcast presenters Don and Clare

Our latest podcast looks at bereavement care.

SPVA continues with our series of podcasts keeping Service personnel and veterans up-to-date with items of interest or news from within the Agency and the Armed Forces Community.

Our  latest podcast provides an update on a project developing services for bereaved members of the Armed Forces Community.

Cruse Bereavement Care, a national charity, is running the three-year project, funded by the Department of Health. Jenny Green, the Project Manager takes part in the podcast interview, providing news of the Project’s progress.

Jenny said: “The podcast is a great way to provide wider awareness of what the Project hopes to achieve in support of the Armed Forces Community. Our aim is to provide accessible support, establish new services and give service specific training for those who are supporting bereaved people.”

Laurie Manton, Head of SPVA Media and Communications said: “SPVA is committed to providing awareness of initiatives and organisations supporting the Armed Forces Community. Since early 2010, SPVA has released a number of podcasts providing information and updates of initiatives and services provided for this important community.”

The podcast and other SPVA social media products are available to access on our Social Media Hub via the Veterans-UK website, and on various social media sites such as iTunes and YouTube.

Don't forget, to keep up-to-date on our social media releases follow us on Twitter!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Recognition and commemoration

Each of the stamps include a monochrome image of an Armed Forces Memorial from the National Arboretum (Picture; Royal Mail)

The Royal Mail has issued a special commemorative sheet of stamps to recognise the sacrifice and contribution made by all those who have served in the Armed Forces.

All profits from the sales of the stamps will be donated to the National Memorial Arboretum, situated in Staffordshire.

The SPVA website also holds information about the Armed Forces Memorial situated at the National Arboretum and also houses the Roll of Honour search facility.

The Roll of Honour database allows you to search for a person who died while they were in Service; the database contains details of those who have died since 1st January 1948.  It's simple to use, requiring either the surname and forenames, or initials (if known), or the Service number. When you have found the person you are looking for you will be given an option to print a Memorial Scroll  that will contain details of their Service in the Armed Forces.

Monday, 1 November 2010

New support groups for the Armed Forces Community

The committees' webpages are housed on the Veterans-UK website

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has launched a new regional network to help veterans, Serving personnel and their families access welfare support in their local area. The one year pilot scheme will see 13 new ‘Veterans Advisory & Pensions Committees (VAPCs)’ across the United Kingdom.

The VAPCs replace the previous ‘War Pension Committees’ but this is not simply a change of name. The new committees have been completely re-constituted and have a fresh focus and a much wider role. This includes:
  • Acting as advocates for implementing improved cross-Government support, including the services outlined in the Service Personnel Command Paper and the Armed Forces ‘Welfare Pathway’.
  •  Raising awareness within their regions of the support available to veterans and the Armed Forces community. This includes compensation and pension schemes for those injured, disabled or bereaved through Service, advice services and the work of the MOD’s Veterans Welfare Service.
  • Assisting serving personnel, their families and veterans in accessing the above services and other local support. This will include providing specific assistance and guidance to individuals in their areas and ensuring they are put in touch with the relevant organisations who can help. The committees will also provide an independent element to the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency’s complaints process.
Chairmen and members have now been appointed to all 13 committees. All are volunteers and come from a cross-section of the local community, including health, social care, legal professionals and veterans groups.

Administration support and guidance for the VAPCs is provided by SPVA. Jon Parkin, the Agency’s Head of Veterans Services said:

“We know from talking to veterans that problems they face can often result from issues affecting a specific area of the country. The new VAPCs will have a vital, on the ground, local knowledge of these issues and will help ensure that Service personnel and veterans needing assistance get the help that’s right for them, wherever they live.”

Lt Col Ray Holland, a Chairman of one of the new Veterans Advisory and Pensions Committees said:

“The new committees will ensure that the needs of Veterans and their dependants are championed at every level from central government to the local community. We will assist in the implementation of the Military Covenant and work closely with local authorities, primary care trusts and Service charities in the delivery of services and benefits.

The committees comprise of members drawn from all walks of life providing a wide range of experience and knowledge, a number of whom have previously served in the Armed Forces.  Located on a regional basis, our local knowledge makes us well placed to serve the veteran community.”

Members of the Armed Forces or Veterans community wanting to contact their local committee should contact the Veterans Welfare Centre for their area  or the Veterans-UK Helpline 0800 169 2277. Alternatively more information can be found on the VAPC webpages.