Armed forces veterans would be given a welfare top-up and extra help for housing under Scottish Conservative proposals for government.
Party leader Douglas Ross wants to use devolved Holyrood powers to make a new payment for veterans’ households in receipt of Universal Credit, worth £520 a year.
He also called for a renewed help-to-buy scheme to assist veterans into property ownership.
Mr Ross says an Armed Forces and Veterans Bill should be introduced to the Scottish Parliament to put more help on a legal footing and help ex-service personnel back into civilian life.
Mr Ross, visiting the Royal Scots Monument in Edinburgh on Tuesday, said: “Too many veterans and families are failed, and their sacrifices go unrecognised.
“While many thrive and prosper after their military service, some end up homeless, struggle to get medical care or some even become trapped in a cycle of reoffending.
“Our Armed Forces and Veterans Bill will further enshrine the voluntary Armed Forces Covenant into law.
“This will ensure that military personnel in Scotland are guaranteed access to a variety of key services.”
‘Treat personnel fairly’
The covenant was published by the UK Government during the war in Afghanistan.
Mark Findlater, a north-east veteran and Tory candidate in Banffshire and Buchan Coast, welcomed the plan.
He said: “The men and women who represent their country need to have the assurances that they will be treated fairly when they finish their service.
“I was a serviceman for 23 years and I know how vital it is to have a transitional link for people leaving the armed forces and contemplating their next move in life.”
Mr Findlater served in the Royal Corps of Signals, Military Intelligence and Bomb Disposal.
‘Destination of choice’
The Scottish Government pledged to ensure there is never any disadvantage for service personnel or veterans and their families in accessing public services.
SNP ministers also committed to making Scotland a “destination of choice” for service leavers with “visible” support from government.
The SNP appointed a Scottish Veterans Commissioner and set up an employment scheme that encourages businesses to recruit veterans in the civilian workforce.
A veterans’ fund was established with £1.3 million for charities and ex-service personnel.
The Conservative-led UK Government last month announced the army, navy and air force will shrink over the next decade.
The army target size is in line to be cut by 9,500 to 72,500, despite earlier general election promises by Boris Johnson the armed services will not be cut.
SNP’s ‘proud track record’
SNP veterans’ minister Graeme Dey said: “The SNP has a proud track record when it comes to standing up for our military communities and their families – including through action to improve employment opportunities, supporting almost 200 projects through the Scottish Veterans Fund, and bringing in the Veterans’ Railcard at a cheaper introductory rate than elsewhere in the UK.
“We will work with anyone to properly support our veterans community, but the Tories’ claim to champion our armed forces rings hollow to those who have seen the chronic underinvestment and years of brutal cuts, which have removed any trace of the Army from large parts of Scotland.
“The Tories have shown they simply can’t be trusted to protect our armed forces after presiding over a decade of real-terms wage cuts for our military personnel, failing to invest in military housing, and missing recruitment targets.
“Only giving both votes to the SNP will deliver real action to support veterans and their families, rather than just warm words, and put Scotland’s recovery from Covid-19 in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s.”