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Blog: Supporting and celebrating our older veterans this Armed Forces Day

Published on 26 June 2020 12:03 PM

Armed Forces Day 2020 looks slightly different from previous years. Although veterans’ groups are unable to meet in person and large-scale social celebrations not possible at the moment, it is still an important chance for people across Scotland the UK to show support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community, including currently serving troops and veterans.

The past three months have been extremely difficult for tens of thousands of older people who have struggled to cope with feeling cut adrift from society and desperately missing family, friends and 'normal life'.

Thankfully, there have been innovative solutions taking place across Scotland to ensure that older veterans stay involved and connected to their communities during what has been a difficult time for so many.

Here are just some of the resources helping older veterans to:

Stay up to date

Since the pandemic began, our Veterans’ Project has sent older veterans monthly news by post, so that those who lack ready internet access in particular can keep up to date on support available to them from within and beyond the veterans’ community.

Take a look at the most recent issue here.  To receive future editions by post email veteransproject@agescotland.org.uk or call the Age Scotland helpline 0800 12 44 222.

Stay connected online

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, loneliness was already a significant public health concern affecting Scotland’s veterans’ community. As so many of Scotland’s veterans are older, they are more likely to have experienced bereavement, caring responsibilities, disabilities and long-term health conditions – all of which increase the risk of social isolation.

Our Veterans’ Project has made many connections with community groups that enable veterans to come together in a relaxed and supportive setting, and seen how this fosters trust and open communication. For veterans who find it difficult talking to civilian services providers about their problems, this can make all the difference in enabling them to access any help and support they need.

Many groups enable veterans to connect with each other through social media and now via Zoom. You can find out more about online opportunities for older veterans at our Best of the net for older veterans webpage.

Access comradeship by phone

On 1 July, Age Scotland is launching Comradeship Circles, a new service offering older armed forces veterans opportunities to enjoy weekly group chats with each other by phone.  

During the coronavirus outbreak many veterans’ charities and community groups have created opportunities for veterans to enjoy comradeship using video-conferencing apps.   Our big concern is for those older veterans who are unable or prefer not to use the internet, and so miss out on these opportunities. 

Veterans aged 50 and older, including Regulars, Reservists, National Service men and Merchant seafarers who have been part of a UK military operation, can register to join with a call to the Age Scotland helpline 0800 12 44 222.  Veterans’ spouses, widows and widowers may also join.

Stay active

C.O.V.E.R.T: A Challenge for Older Veterans to Exercise Regularly Together, aimed to encourage older veterans in their groups to boost fitness and friendship, as both are vital for a happy and healthy later life.

Veterans’ groups across Scotland took on the challenge, sending diaries about how their members were trying new activities and becoming more physically active together.

There were so many fantastic participants, but the overall winner was Erskine Reid Macewan Activity Centre. At ERMAC veterans aged 50 to 94 took part in regular activities including walking, Tai Chi, archery, gardening and Age Scotland’s Power Quiz game, and the centre plans to use its C.O.V.E.R.T prize money to buy equipment for even more indoor games. 

Watch the video below to find out why they stood out.

The Veterans’ Project continues to encourage and support physical activity among older veterans.  Currently the Team is offering Power Quiz, a fun team game that boosts brain and body, remotely using the Zoom app.  If you belong to or work with a group of older veterans who have internet access you can email veteransproject@agescotland.org.uk to find out more.

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