Sir Julian Lewis: From his maiden speech onwards, the Minister has relentlessly promoted the cause of service veterans, and the whole House should be grateful to him for it. Even longer in their service are tremendously experienced charities such as Veterans Aid in Victoria, under the inspirational leadership of Dr Hugh Milroy. To what extent is Government strategy drawing on the vast experience of such organisations, which know so much about the frontline issues faced by veterans who fall on hard times or even into destitution?
[The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Johnny Mercer): I pay huge tribute to the charities in this space. I know the work of Veterans Aid, and Hugh does a terrific job down there. The key in all this work is collaboration. Nobody will deliver this by themselves. The expertise in the charity sector is unrivalled. In Op Courage, we have delivered a dedicated mental health care pathway for veterans, which is commissioned centrally but delivered by different charitable partners all over the United Kingdom. It works for the Government, because we know that the services are happening; it works for individuals, because they know that a service is available for them; and it works for the vital charities in the sector, which can have longer-term contracts. We are doing that on homelessness: Op Fortitude has set up a network of wraparound service provision to end homelessness this Christmas. I know that there is always more to do, and I would love to see Veterans Aid and to catch up with where it is with its work.]