Steve Parsons, PA/AP
Britain's Secretary of State for Defense

Britain Decides on Troop Welfare After Long Debate

July 18, 2008 05:08 PM
by Josh Katz
On Thursday, Britain unveiled its plans to increase monetary and educational benefits to veterans, after years of criticism that the nation was not treating them appropriately.

30-Second Summary

Following in the footsteps of the United States and its policy for veterans, Des Browne of the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said military servicemen would be able to attend college or university for free following their stints in the army, navy or air force.

The proposals also call for a doubling of compensation paid to the members of the armed forces who are seriously injured. Under the old plan, service members could receive at most £285,000 (about $570,000) if they were badly injured. The new proposal doubles that amount, which would accompany their yearly income. Compensation for those with lesser injuries will rise 80 percent.

The lives of servicemen have also been difficult because of the frequent changes of post. Brown said the government would try to help them with frequent moves by assisting them in finding doctors, dentists and schools.

Retention rates in the armed forces have become an issue in the United Kingdom, and a recent MoD survey found that 47 percent of the army soldiers, and a similar percent of air force members, have often thought about quitting. A formidable opposition to the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan has also plagued the government.

Many political figures in Britain and other commentators have lauded the new measures, even though they have been a long time coming.

But Liberal Democrat defense spokesman, Nick Harvey, said the measures
, "cannot repair the damage already done by the long-term neglect of the welfare of servicemen and women.”

Headline Link: ‘Free Higher Education for Troops in MoD Welfare Overhaul’

Opinion & Analysis: Struggling to agree on a proposal

Related Link: The U.S. GI Bill


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