A story has reappeared in the media about an 82 year old ex-soldier who was found dead just hours after being evicted from a squat, and on today of all days it is a timely reminder that there is still a lot that needs to be done to improve the lives of war veterans in this country.
The original article was published in 2015.
It is a heartbreaking description of what can happen when elderly war heroes are simply ‘forgotten’ by the system, and there is still a debate raging on about the way that charities are left to ‘pick up the slack’ as a result of years of inaction by our own government.
According to the original story in The Mirror:
A homeless ex-soldier died hours after he was evicted from a city centre squat.
Known only as George, the 82-year-old is believed to have passed away from bronchial pneumonia, a support group for veterans has revealed.
He had been living in a disused building in Manchester with 12 other homeless ex-servicemen before they were all evicted.
His ‘band of brothers’ walked with him to Salford Royal Hospital after he was taken ill and he died with four of them at his bedside.
Salford Armed Forces Veterans Network (SAFVN), which is in contact with the group, say they know little about George, but said his death was a damning indictment on support services available for homeless ex-service personnel across the country.
He is believed to have proudly worn his military service medals at all times and been homeless for around 20 years.
The tragedy follows legal wrangles over homeless camps in Manchester city centre, new council policies to open up derelict buildings for rough sleepers over winter and Manchester United legends Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs letting a group of homeless people stay at the old Stock Exchange building on Norfolk Street, which they own and plan to convert into a luxury hotel.
We can only hope that this tragic tale has raised awareness of the plight of elderly ex-soldiers who fall upon hard times.
Read on for more about why this is such an important cause.
A story recently appeared in the press about a British war veteran who had fallen upon hard times and then been told to use food banks – this is in spite of a government promise that all ex-servicemen and women will be ‘honoured’ upon their exit from the forces.
According to express.co.uk: “Former Coldstream Guard, Joe Greensmith, revealed he was told to go looking for hand-outs – and offered a loan – when he went to the Jobcentre in Lowestoft, Suffolk.
“Mr Greensmith, who toured in Bosnia, Northern Ireland and the first Gulf war, informed he should seek the free meals, despite having been diagnosed with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), when he fell into hard times.”
This is nothing short of a disgrace. It’s a tragedy for ANYONE in modern Britain to be forced to resort to visiting a food bank – let’s just make that point perfectly clear first of all.
However, time and time again we hear about brave men and women leaving the forces and then suffering from horrific PTSD and other mental and physical issues.
How the hell are they supposed to reintegrate into British society if they cannot receive the specialised assistance that they so badly need.
Serving for your country is a matter of great pride and dignity, and this advice from the Jobcentre was the fastest way for both of these to be cruelly torn away from him.
What’s even more worrying is that this story may just be the tip of the iceberg.
How many other returning heroes have been slapped with this ‘one size fits all’ advice?
If it all boils down to money, then this government needs to prioritise – however suggesting that areas like foreign aid could be trimmed down will be met with the predictable screams of outrage from the Left.