The Royal British Legion today launched The Veterans Medical Funds. Managed by the Legion, the two new funds (The Veterans Hearing Fund and The Veterans Mobility Fund) will support veterans with hearing loss or serious physical injury providing them with equipment and therapies to improve their wellbeing. Using income generated from the Libor fines, the funding – a total of £13 million over 5 years – will be made available via the Legion.
In line with the Armed Forces Covenant and the principle of ‘no disadvantage’, the funds aim to reduce disadvantage to veterans (both regular and reservist). This includes those who have acquired hearing loss during their Service or who have been medically discharged due to a Service-attributable serious physical injury.
The Veterans Hearing Fund addresses concerns which the Legion, a major campaigner for the Armed Forces community, revealed in its hearing loss report Lost Voices. The fund comes as a result of the Legion’s research and campaigning both through Lost Voices and the 2015 Manifesto which included veterans’ access to hearing aids as a key policy recommendation.
Head of Grants at The Royal British Legion, Daniel Elser, said: “Hearing loss can have a profound effect on career prospects, family relationships, social life and mental health and we know that veterans under the age of 75 are three-and-a-half times more likely than the general population to report problems with their hearing. This funding will enable the provision of vital equipment and courses and we hope address the stigma attached to hearing loss.”
“Whether it’s providing less conspicuous “in the ear” hearing aids, Bluetooth streamers to link hearing aids to household items such as a baby monitor or mobile phone, or a lip-reading course to help a veteran engage more confidently in social situations, it’s all about minimising disadvantage and making everyday life easier.”
The second fund, The Veterans Mobility Fund, will provide veterans who have been seriously injured during their Service with wheelchairs or other mobility aids, meeting any wellbeing need which is not met through a statutory source.
At present, personnel who are discharged with a Service-attributable serious physical injury will receive equipment from the Ministry of Defence for five years after leaving. This fund will ensure that those veterans continue to receive the same standard of equipment after the five years as well as catering for any veterans who fall outside of this provision.
Daniel Elser added: “We would encourage any veterans or reservists who were discharged due to serious injury during Service, or those who acquired hearing loss during Service, to get in touch to see if we can support them.”
Health Minister Ben Gummer said:
“It is vital that those who have served our country continue to receive the best possible care once they leave the Armed Forces. These important funds will be life-changing for many veterans with Service related hearing and mobility issues.”
The programme has been designed in consultation with the Ministry of Defence, National Health Service, Department of Health and representatives from subject matter experts in the medical and Armed Forces charity communities.
 Finding detailed in Lost Voices.