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Council backs PoppyScotland’s campaign to capture data on Scotland’s veterans on next census

Poppy Scotland
Poppy Scotland

There is more information known about the location of Scotland’s Jedi knight population than it’s surviving armed forces veterans.

Armed with this fact, Aberdeenshire councillors have unanimously backed a campaign this week to capture information about veterans in future census forms.

PoppyScotland wants to change the questions on future forms to allow data on veteran’s locations to be collected and then used to help any who may have “fallen off the radar”.

At the moment, people completing the forms can register their religion as Heavy Metal or, as almost 12,000 did, can call themselves Jedi knights.

An RAF veteran who served 24-years, councillor Alan Fakley, submitted the motion which gives council backing to the PoppySCotland ‘Count Them In’ campaign.

He said: “It’s only twenty years ago that we saw the conflict in Bosnia. It’s long gone from the news stories, but there are still servicemen who wake up at 4am and see those images – mass murders; genocides; those unspeakable crimes.

“Those images are as strong today – in the early hours of the morning – as they were twenty years ago.

“We can see documentaries about the Falklands War, Scots and Welsh guards aboard those burning ships, soldiers carried onshore by their mates – these are their nightmares.

“As a nation we commemorate our war dead. We are very good at it and are very proud of it. This year especially being the 100th anniversary of the armistice, we still do remember them.

“In the coming decades we can see an epidemic of PTSD and similar illnesses, resulting from modern conflicts and the data collected from the Census could greatly aid the authorities in anticipating the problems they are about to receive.

“Unfortunately some fall off the radar and become the great unseen. They don’t seek help and we will need to find them in future years.”


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Showing his support for the motion, fellow veteran and councillor Alistair Forsyth gave an emotive speech, during which he visibly broke down as he recalled his time served in Northern Ireland.

He said: “It seems strange that we know more about the circumstances of Scotland’s Jedi Knights population than those that have served and those still serving.

“By asking questions in the next census, we can shape and develop services to best meet the needs of those we seek to support.”

Councillor Mark Findlater, also an army veteran of 23-years, joined his colleagues in praise for the armed services.

He said: “I did eight operational tours.

“I’ve seen many bad things and I suffer from nightmares now and again. Eight young men were head shot in front of me out in Bosnia and I could do nothing about it.

“Veterans are usually the last ones to ask for help and, if they do, it’s usually when it’s far too late to do so.

“Fortunately I have a good support network, but the council’s support is a great thing to do.

“When diplomacy fails, we send the army, navy and marines in to do the job.

“We need to find all these folk in our communities so that we can direct the services towards them when they need it.

“They have done a great job and hopefully the council can do more for them in the future.”

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