On Friday morning I met with the Hire A Hero campaign to hear about the work they are doing to help our service personnel after they leave the armed forces.
It is a sad fact that, after years serving on the frontline, many of our soldiers find it difficult to find employment once they leave the services. There are a number of reasons for this. Though they learn many valuable skills in the forces, many employers are perhaps unsure how these skills can translate to their own business. In some areas, despite the fact that the qualifications they work towards in the military are essentially identical to civilian qualifications, they are not recognised as such.
There is also a problem with the preparation for civilian life that they are given when leaving the services. This is especially true of those who join after they leave school; most will have never been to an interview outside of the forces, or even put together a CV.
Sadly, this too often leads to other problems at home, with the stress leading to the break-up of families. I’m sure many of us have seen the terrible stories of ex-service personnel who end up homeless and sleeping rough. Some, unfortunately, end up in prison.
Hire A Hero was founded following the experience of an ex-serviceman named Yusupha ‘Baresi’ Secka. After serving tours of duty in both Afghanistan and Iraq, Baresi was unable to find employment, and reached a point where he felt his only option was to re-enlist. Karen Chadwick heard his story, and was able to find him a position as a care worker at the company she runs. This inspired her to set up Hire A Hero, to try and help more people in the same position.
The campaign aims to raise public awareness of these issues that are faced when leaving the forces, and trying to encourage employers to recruit ex-service personnel. A number of large UK firms have so far signed-up to the campaign, and they are hoping to gain further support in the coming months.
They also aim to give direct help to ex-service personnel by being able to offer them re-training, and help them with interview skills, CV writing and any other advice that could be needed, working alongside other support organisations that exist for the armed forces.
A real issue that came across to me from the meeting was the frustration felt about the lack of recognition of military qualifications, as I mentioned above. I will be writing to the Secretary of State for Defence next week to find out what the obstacles are for such recognition, and see what steps the government can take to try and address this issue. I will also be tabling an Early Day Motion, in order to raise awareness of the campaign amongst my fellow backbenchers.
Regardless of our opinions on the conflicts that our forces are currently involved in around the world, I’m sure that we can all agree that our brave service personnel deserve our admiration and recognition for the sacrifices they are making for the country, and I am proud to support the work that organisations like Hire A Hero are doing.