Head of WVF Wellbeing Division, Dr Hugh Milroy
In 2023, following its highly successful Congress in Belgrade, the WVF decided that a more modern relevant and holistic approach to care for veterans in society was required. To this end its former Health and Welfare division has been subsumed into a wider Wellbeing Division. Through its influence and advocacy, the WVF Wellbeing Division will lobby for the adoption of comprehensive, veteran-centred approaches to wellbeing, based on individual need rather than traditional concepts of welfare and specific health issues.
WVF – VETERANS WELLBEING STATEMENT
We, the World Veterans Federation (WVF), observe that globally and despite good intentions, many veterans’ needs are unmet. In recent times the focus has been on health issues, but the time is right to see that health is a part of wellbeing. We believe in the need for a holistic approach to veteran care.
As things currently stand, in some cases, these veterans are invisible and consequently unsupported; in others their plight is evident but unaddressed. As an organisation with veterans’ wellbeing at its heart, we therefore call on all Governments and ex-service support agencies to work towards delivering universal wellbeing for former servicemen and women who were willing to put their lives at risk for their country.
This support must extend to their families; it is about more than just health and should encompass every aspect of their lives.
We ask that Governments and other responsible agencies open a dialogue with veterans, to discover their real needs rather than simply telling them what is available.
We believe that only by asking veterans what they need will the tools to transform their lives be identified and suggest that the gathering of real, qualitative evidence on a significant scale should be the norm in each country.
However, extrapolation of data alone is not going to promote universal veteran wellbeing. We expect more than ad hoc interventions or acknowledgment of service at public events. We advocate commitment to embracing all veterans, not just as wounded warriors, but as individuals deserving of dignity, provided with every opportunity to thrive and achieve their full potential.
We expect Governments, ex-service aid agencies and the world of business to deliver veteran support in the broadest sense – not just for the obvious few, but in a way that is conducive to promoting a rewarding life for all veterans and their families. Improving the lives of veterans is everyone’s business, with prioritisation of urgent, targeted help for the poorest and most vulnerable.
We believe that sustainable outcomes, based on demonstrably needed interventions and poverty reduction, are the keys to achieving universal wellbeing for veterans.
This is a project for the world. We believe that every veteran, without distinction of any kind, has the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and wellbeing that can be provided.
Our definition of wellbeing is: “A state in which veterans and their families are best equipped to cope with adversity – however it presents itself. ” It is a comprehensive, veteran-centred approach based on the needs of the individual.
We acknowledge that geographic, socio-economic, cultural and other differences will mean that wellbeing translates uniquely in every country. Furthermore, we recognise the primary role and responsibility of Governments to determine their own path towards achieving universal veteran wellbeing, in accordance with national contexts and priorities.
We affirm the need for national ownership of health and wellbeing for all veterans aimed at eradicating discrimination toward them, promoting quality education, achieving gender equality, women’s empowerment, providing decent work opportunities for economic self-sustainment, reducing inequalities and ensuring that action is taken to provide universal wellbeing for veterans throughout their life.
Political leadership and commitment are key to the success of this aim. Veterans are part of society, not apart from it, and investment in their wellbeing benefits the community as a whole.
We are defined by the way we treat the most vulnerable members of society and united by our common humanity. There must be a special emphasis on poor, vulnerable and marginalised veterans by recognising that support systems must be strong, resilient, well-governed, accountable, integrated, veteran-centric and capable of providing quality support. Anything less is inadequate.
This statement formalises the WVF’s commitment to promoting and championing the cause of veteran wellbeing. It is a “living” statement which is designed to change as new issues inevitably become apparent.
It is our intention to move forward to promote universal wellbeing for veterans.