Tuesday, 28 June 2011

New Medal for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee

The one-off medal is made of nickel silver and designed by Timothy Noad, a professional calligrapher and illuminator
Members of the Armed Forces will be presented with a medal to mark Her Majesty The Queen's Diamond Jubilee in February 2012.

The commemorative medal designed to mark the Queen's 60 years on the throne will be awarded to members of the emergency services, Prison Service and the following Armed Forces personnel:
  • members of the Armed Forces (Regular and Reserves) who have completed five full calendar years of service on 6 February 2012;
  • living holders of the Victoria Cross and George Cross; and
  • members of the Royal Household.
 Full details of the qualifying criteria for the medal will be published later this summer.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Build up to Armed Forces Day continues . . .

Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, pictured with veterans of the Armed Forces who now work within the Palace of Westminster [Picture: Sergeant Andy Malthouse, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]

More events are being celebrated in the lead up to Armed Forces Day this weekend.

An exhibition of photographs provided by veterans working in the House of Commons - 'Standing Next to You' - was opened yesterday by John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons.

The exhibition features past and present photographs of veterans alongside their remarkable stories. It was the idea of Madeleine Moon MP who wanted to highlight the fact that people who have served are all around us, and show support for Armed Forces Day.

Over twenty veterans volunteered for the exhibition from all departments and sides of the House and representing all three Services. They include Members of Parliament, Police Constables, doorkeepers and security officers. These individuals have retained the ethos they gained during their time in the Armed Forces, which remains relevant to the jobs they do today.

Many of the volunteers who contributed their stories and photographs for the exhibition attended the exhibition launch and Mr Bercow presented eight of them with Veterans Badges.

To promote recognition of veterans by the wider British public, the unique and unifying symbol of the HM Armed Forces Veterans Badge is available to all those who have served in HM Armed Forces.

The HM Armed Forces Veterans’ Lapel Badge was launched in May 2004 by the then Minister for Veterans, to raise the profile of veterans by assisting the wider public to recognise them. Our videocast provides more information on the badge.

Information on how to apply for a Veterans Badge can be found here.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

New Armed Forces Community Covenant Scheme Launched

The launch of a Community Covenant scheme is one of the key measures of the Armed Forces Covenant
The first Armed Forces Community Covenant scheme was launched yesterday in Oxfordshire. The covenant is a voluntary statement of mutual support between a civilian community and its local Armed Forces Community.  £30million of Government funding has been allocated over the next four years to support the scheme.

The aims of the Community Covenant include:
  • to encourage local communities to support the Armed Forces Community in their areas, and vice versa;
  • to promote understanding and awareness amongst the public of issues affecting the Armed Forces Community;
  • to recognise and remember the sacrifices made by the Armed Forces Community; and
  • to encourage activities which help to integrate the Armed Forces Community into local life.
The launch in Oxfordshire will be followed by launches in the Vale of Glamorgan, Hampshire and North Yorkshire in the next couple of weeks. A scheme will also be launched in Portsmouth at a later date. 

Picture: Harland Quarrington, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010

Fly the flag

An Armed Forces Day Flag flies over buildings in London
[Picture: Harland Quarrington, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Yesterday saw the start of the celebrations for Armed Forces Day, with many buildings across the UK flying the Armed Forces Day Flag.

Flying the flag has become part of the celebrations in the lead up to the main day.
The flags were hoisted to show support for members of the Armed Forces, veterans, cadets and their families.

Armed Forces Day is a chance for the British public to show their support for the men and women of the Armed Forces Community - from currently serving troops to Service families, and from veterans to cadets.

As well as raising the Armed Forces Day Flag, communities across the country are hosting hundreds of events to celebrate the Armed Forces, with the national, three-day celebration taking place in Edinburgh from 24-26 June 2011.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Countdown to Armed Forces Day continues

It's just over a week to go until Armed Forces Day 2011, so how are you planning to spend the day?

One of Britain's most successful Paralympians of all time, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, is encouraging people to go and support troops during Armed Forces Day.

It’s an opportunity to do two things. Firstly, to raise public awareness of the contribution made to our country by those who serve and have served in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, Secondly, it gives the nation an opportunity to Show Your Support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community: from currently serving troops to Service families and from veterans to cadets.

Armed Forces Day will be on Saturday, 25 June 2011.

With the National Event being held in Edinburgh and other events being organised across the UK, make sure you know what's being planned and how to get involved by visiting the official website.

Business as usual for SPVA

From 16 June, SPVA has ceased to be an executive Agency of the Minstry of Defence in a move, requested by the Agency, and agreed by Minister (DPWV).

There's no change to our name or the services we deliver.  The change in status will support the cross-government of public spending and reduced costs incurred by having Agency status. 

Our Deputy Chief Executive, Cdre Ross Albon explained: “This has not been an easy decision.  We looked long and hard but decided that in the current financial climate, we had to prioritise funds on maintaining and improving the services we deliver to our customers, rather than on ourselves. The important thing is that we will still be delivering our essential and high quality services to our customers. It is a case of ‘Business as Usual’ for SPVA."

"The important thing is that we will still be delivering our essential and high quality services to our customers."

Although no longer an Executive Agency of the Ministry of Defence, SPVA will keep its identity and logo which helps maintain its association with ex-Service charities and organisations. This will avoid the unnecessary expenditure associated with re-branding.

SPVA will remain a distinct business unit and continue to be known as the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency from a customer perspective and report, as before, to DCDS(Pers & Trg) in the MOD.

Cdre Albon said it was important to remember that:

• SPVA does really important work in support of serving Personnel and Veterans, maintains good business results and has a reputation for delivering against targets.

• All of its key functions – JPA system, Forces HR, Pensions, AFCS, JCCC, Medals Office and Veterans Welfare will remain within SPVA

• SPVA retains full responsibility for delivering the ‘Boyce’ Armed Forces Compensation Scheme changes.

• SPVA has achieved huge success in meeting its key targets and improving customer service. This puts its in a much better place to move forward.

• SPVA delivers many vital services for the Armed Forces and Veterans Communities – these still need to be delivered in the future

• The work we all do is valued – our customers say so in surveys and we have won several awards from respected institutions.

• SPVA has a culture of providing an ‘excellent customer service’ – that won’t change.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Armed Forces Day 2011 - plans for the big day

In our latest podcast release, our presenters asks the planners how they are planning to celebrate this year's Armed Forces Day.

We are just a matter of weeks away from the third national Armed Forces Day. This year, the National event is being hosted by Edinburgh.

Our podcast provides an update on the events planned across the UK to celebrate the day and we have interviewed Air Vice-Marshal David Murray, the MOD’s lead on the events and Edinburgh Council Leader Jenny Dawe on what the city is preparing for the national event.

The press release for the podcast can be found here.

SPVA will be supporting Armed Forces Day by providing display stands, posters and information leaflets at many events around the country. Veterans Welfare Service advisors will be on hand at the national event in Edinburgh as well as nine other events throughout the UK to offer one-to-one help and support.

To find out where we’ll be, take a look at our on-line events calendar.
The podcast and other SPVA social media products are available to access on the SPVA Social Media Hub.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Who's reading your status?

The second video for the MOD Security Awareness Campaign is now online:

The mother of an airman in the RAF is using Facebook, but is it may not just be friends and family reading her status update . . .

Monday, 13 June 2011

Another Veterans WORLD issue hits the stands

The June issue ready to view

The June issue of Veterans WORLD is now online.

With articles on the Military Covenant, the changes to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and further information on the Bereaved Children's Scholarship Scheme, you can find information on issues affecting the Armed Forces Community.

There's also details on the new mental health helpline that's recently been launched and what's being planned for Armed Forces Day 2011.

We've also got some great features on Sea Sanctuary, a unique charity based in Falmouth, Cornwall, which combines Sail training with other therapies to support veterans.  We've also got an update on the Be The Boss scheme which is celebrating its first anniversary this month (perfect timing for this issue).  We've also news of a new Home and Money programme, employment support providing by two charities and a new centre in Scotland providing services to Scottish veterans with a visual impairment. 

Hopefully, there's something for everyone is this jam-packed issue, so why don't you take a look today.

You might also notice that we now have two ways to view Veterans WORLD online; you can either view the magazine as a standard PDF or you can use our new option to view Veterans World via ISSUU, a leading digital publishing platform that’s free to access. This new option will provide you with a more interactive, digital version of Veterans WORLD, which we hope will give you a more enjoyable and accessible way to read the magazine

We've also launched our latest podcast; in a role reversal the magazine designer Kris Blacow interviews Laurie Manton, our Editor-in-Chief about the June issue.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Be Aware - bank card scam

The scam is targeting the elderly*

We've been asked to help raise awareness and warn of a scam aimed at gaining access to people’s bank account savings and which appears to be targeted at the elderly, including Armed Forces veterans.

The scam involves the victims receiving a telephone call from someone stating they are from their bank. The person will say that they need to get a new bank card and that it will be delivered by courier. A person posing as a courier then attends the address and takes the victims bank card in exchange for a ‘new’ one. The new bank card is a fake and the offenders will then go on to use the bank card from the victim to make numerous fraudulent transactions. It is thought that they obtain the pin number through the telephone conversation.

At least two of the four known victims of this scam have been Armed Forces veterans.

SPVA’s Head of Veterans Services, Jon Parkin, said:

“Whilst there is nothing to suggest that the Veterans Community is specifically being targeted, it is important for veterans to be aware of this scam and to remain vigilant. If people are approached in this way, they should refuse to become involved and should report the matter to their local police station.

The warning was issued after the Police contacted the Agency and requested help in making veterans groups aware.

*Illustrative image of a pensioner on the telephone with a bank card. © Crown Copyright/MOD 2011.

Monday, 6 June 2011

'Our War' - a personal experience

Bjorn Rose, former Army Lieutenant, has written about army life in Afghanistan for the BBC TV blog [Copyright Simon Panter/BBC]

Tomorrow night, the first episode of Our War airs on BBC Three, the three-part series marking a decade of the War in Afghanistan. 

The first episode - Ambushed - focuses on 1 Battalion Royal Anglian's tour of Helmand Province in 2007. The whole tour was filmed on a helmet camera by the platoon's sergeant (the MOD gave the BBC unprecedented access to thousands of hours of footage shot on helmet cameras and personal video cameras).  During the tour, the platoon suffered a casualty with the loss of 19 year old Private Chris Gray. 

Bjorn Rose, a former Army Lieutenant, was the officer commanding 3 (Corunna) Platoon (one of the nine platoons in the Battalion) and is featured in the Ambushed episode. He talks about his involvement in the series and impact of Private Gray's death in a moving blog post, which can be read on the BBC TV blog post  here.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Wear your uniform to work

Royal Naval Reservist Able Seaman Ritchie Wilkinson speaks with presenters Phillip Schofield and Jenni Falconer on ITV1's This Morning [Picture: Copyright Ken McKay 2011]
Now a regular event as part of the build up to Armed Forces DayUniform to Work Day will be held on June 22. 

The day is a great opportunity to highlight the the important role that Reserves play in serving their country.

Uniform to Work Day will mean many reservists leaving their suit and tie at home and donning their Forces uniform to wear to work instead. Last year, thousands of reservists took part in the initiative to show their pride in giving their time for their country.

Three reservists are already preparing for Uniform to Work Day, see more on their story online.

Senior Aircraftman Dave Haygarth of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force wears his RAF uniform during his day job as the Energy Manager for the London Borough of Hillingdon. [Picture: Sergeant Andy Malthouse RAF, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]

Free carvery meal for Armed Forces: past and present

Heroes getting ready to 'tuck in'

Crown Carveries is supporting the Armed Forces Day 2011 by offering a free carvery meal to all Armed Forces, past and present, between Monday 20th and Saturday 25th June.

With 117 restaurants nationwide, Crown Carveries plans to salute the thousands of Service people enlisted to Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, by offering them a free carvery meal in the week leading up to, and on Armed Forces Day itself (Saturday 25th June). The offer is also open to all forces veterans.

Enjoying the free carvery couldn’t be easier. All past and present Service people simply need to visit their website and download the ‘free carvery meal’ voucher and present this along with their current ID card (or veteran lapel badge) to staff at their local Crown Carvery restaurant.

The Veterans Lapel Badge is required for proof of Service if you are a veteran

'Our War' - marking a decade in Afghanistan

New BBC Three series will look at a decade in Afghanistan

Marking a decade of the War in Afghanistan, BBC Three is airing a new three-part series Our War next week.

The MOD gave the BBC unprecedented access to thousands of hours of footage shot on helmet cameras and personal video cameras.  The series will give a unique insight into the War, told through films shot by the soldiers themselves.

With the raw honesty of first person stories of life on the front line, the series offers a gripping and poignant insight into every aspect of the young soldiers' experiences -  the average age of the soldiers is 21 - from fear to boredom, grief to bravery, the camaraderie of the platoon and the return home.

The first episode - Ambushed - will air on June 7 at 9pm. This episode focuses on 1 Battalion Royal Anglian's tour of Helmand Province in 2007.

The second episode - The Invisible Enemy - will air on June 14 at 9pm.  This episode follows the plight of the first troops sent to Helmand Province in 2006 and shows how, three years later, Improvised Explosive Devices had changed the War.

The final episode - Caught in the Crossfire  - will air on June 21 at 9pm.  This episode looks at the transition from bloody conflict to the fight for 'hearts and minds' as civilians and the military are caught in the crossfire.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Sharing information online

The Teaser for the second video to be released as part of the new MOD online security awareness campaign.

The Mother of an Airman in the RAF is using Facebook but it may not be friends and family reading her status updates.

The new online guidance provides tips on how to keep secure when online, the information is useful for all members of the Armed Forces Community.

Is it just your mate who know where you've checked in?

The first online video released as part of the new MOD online security awareness campaign.

Two Navy personnel have a night out, but is it just their mates, who know where they've checked it?

The majority of social media products have geo-location functions so anyone can see exactly where you are. The new online guidance provides tips on how to keep secure when online.

Think Before You...

The MOD has just launched a new personal online security awareness campaign.

The campaign aims to encourage Service Personnel and MOD civilians to carefully consider possible repercussions before posting information on social networking sites.

There is also new MOD guidance - Think Before You . . . - for personnel using social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, which advises them not to put themselves or others at increased risk by releasing too much information about themselves or other operational details.

Risks to Service personnel - and potentially their families - include posting details and locations of troop movements, operational events, locations and travel details of ships or aircraft, as well as people's home addresses. If inadvertently released, information such as this could give the UK's enemies the upper hand. 

The guidance and products to download (web banners, posters, etc) would be useful for anyone in the Armed Forces Community.

Online videos have been released as part of the campaign and we'll be posting links to them shortly.