Agenda: A community whose needs we should never forget

Many live independently, of course without the need for advice, but some need professional support – and this is where our Armed Services Advice Project (ASAP) comes into play.

Founded in 2010, ASAP has provided almost 120,000 pieces of advice to more than 21,500 people in Scotland – not just veterans but also those currently serving and their loved ones. Our funding from Poppyscotland and other military charities has enabled us to advise these clients on issues such as income maximization, welfare payments and debt management.

Giving advice may not sound like much, but some of the cases we see involve people in real need. Our help can often free up extra money, allowing them to get a house, heat their home, or take a cab to a doctor’s appointment instead of having to struggle with public transportation. A veteran who had access to a new mobility car with the help of our advisor, Rosie, recently told us, “It has literally transformed my family’s life.”

Now it is true that the cost of living crisis is affecting everyone, not just military personnel. Why is ASAP necessary?

Although veterans and members of the armed forces face many of the same problems as civilians, many of them require specialist help. If you’re not used to it, the achievement system can be difficult to navigate and understand what support is available, and there’s a lot of conflicting information. A large part of the counseling in our project is figuring out what you are entitled to, as well as helping you claim benefits and manage your money.

Read more: Helping give healthcare patients a voice

Homelessness Network Scotland reports that veterans face unique challenges in finding housing, both due to their lack of experience outside the military world and a lack of local connection brought on by the army lifestyle. Local advice to local people is something we encourage at Citizen’s Advice, and putting those in need in touch with a regional ASAP advisor makes a huge difference to our service users. “Without the help of Audrey, our ASAP representative, I might be homeless and possibly dead,” one veteran recently told us.

The military culture of pride and self-reliance also has a major impact, especially when it comes to mental health. A report by Forces in Mind Trust found that veterans are likely to withdraw from non-specific health services despite the fact that they face significant health problems.

Why? One of our service users said it best. “Having a counselor who really listened to me and understood how my c-PTSD is affecting my health was a game changer.” One veteran who we counseled on housing told us, “She made me feel to be a valued member of society again, and it’s been a long time since I’ve experienced that.” The transition to civilian life can feel very isolating, so for some military personnel it makes a world of difference to be able to talk to someone who understands what they went through.

Like all CAB services, ASAP is free, impartial and confidential. You can access our help through any Scottish CAB or at

Tony Kenmuir is Senior Project Manager at Citizens Advice Scotland.

Tony Kenmuir is Senior Project Manager at Citizens Advice Scotland. Agenda: A community whose needs we should never forget

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