Pay-out fight for injured troops - 'Lives on the Line' campaign
Colonel Richard Kemp was the Commander of the British Forces in Afghanistan, and the best-selling author has now launched the Lives on the Line campaign.
He is calling on the Government to change the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) to make it fair for all military personnel wounded in action before and after April 2005. Under the existing system any soldiers injured before April 2005 are only covered by the old War Pensions Scheme which dates back to the First World War and is a “significantly inferior” compensation package.
The campaign, launched earlier this week, already has the backing of more than 2,730 people on Facebook.
Colchester MP Bob Russell is backing the campaign and his motion in the House of Commons calling for the changes has been signed by more than 50 other parliamentarians.
Under the scheme, recently reviewed by former Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral the Lord Boyce, soldiers wounded in action after April 2005 are the only ones to qualify for full compensation.
Lives on the Line demands all soldiers, sailors and airmen wounded in action since military operations began in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003 respectively should be included.
Col Kemp gave the example of Sergeant Mick Brennan who lost both legs in a suicide attack in November 2004, but only qualifies for a far less significant pay-out because he is under the old system.
He said: “It is nonsense. When Sgt Brennan finishes serving he will receive a lump sum of about £40,000 and a war pension per month.
“If he had been under the new system he would have received £250,000 because of his injuries, immediately, and a guaranteed income payment higher than the war pension.
“The difference that will make to somebody is that you can buy a house and use the payments to live on, whereas without that you would have to buy a house with a mortgage and then use the pension to pay that which is completely wrong in my view.
“It is so fundamentally wrong, so obviously wrong, that I believe it will be changed but I do not know how long it will take.”
The former Colchester Royal Grammar School pupil estimates it would cost about £25million to cover about 100 injured personnel.
“It sounds a lot of money but it is not in terms of government finances and it will make a huge difference to every single person and their quality of life.
“They have taken those risks for us - putting their lives on the line - and we owe it to them to look after them for the rest of their lives.”
He urged people to sign up to the Facebook campaign group and also to put their names on a petition on the 10 Downing Street website which is already gathering support.
Col Kemp has written to all three of the main party leaders and so far the Conservative Party has responded with their support.
Kevan Jones, the Veterans Minister, said: “The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme Review was conducted under the independent chairmanship of Admiral the Lord Boyce and supported by experts in compensation, medicine, law, by service charities and by stakeholders representing injured personnel, their families and the bereaved.
“The review did not recommend extending AFCS provisions beyond the start of the scheme.”
This issue is also the subject of an Early Day Motion proposed by Bob Russell MP (Lib Dem, Colchester). This proposal is to backdate the operation of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme to 1 January 2001, which would still exclude those injured before that date but may, the proposers will argue, have a stronger chance of success.
LIVES ON THE LINE CAMPAIGN
That this House recognises the bravery, dedication and sacrifice of members of the armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq; applauds the recent review and enhancement of the Armed Forces' Compensation Scheme; and calls on the Government to amend the qualifying date of 6 April 2005 to 1 January 2001, which marks the beginning of the war on terror, that ensures equality of treatment for personnel injured in Iraq and Afghanistan and thereby honours its duty of care to this loyal and dignified group of service men and women and their families.
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