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Former soldiers asked how 'civvy street' measures up

Readjusting to civilian life can be challenging for former military personnel

A new survey has been launched to find out how well former soldiers have adapted to civilian life.

The Kent and Medway Civilian Partnership board wants to hear from the one hundred and twenty nine thousand or so former servicemen and servicewomen who live across the county of Kent. The organisation is made up of representatives from local government in Kent and Medway, the armed forces, and service charities.

The questions asked include issues such as - how well the veterans are adapting to 'civvy street', how they contribute to the local community, and whether they feel well supported within their local communities.

The form is available to complete online from Friday 5th June, and the closing date for filling in the survey is 31st July 2015. The overall findings and results of the research will be published in early 2016.

"In Kent we have over 2,600 serving personnel and 412 reservists who we know we can reach with this survey.

"But we are keen on tracking down ex-service personnel who we have no way of knowing where they are and how their lives have changed.

"The survey will remain anonymous though we do ask for a postcode to help us map needs and opportunities.

"By taking part in this survey, it will help us shape where and how resources can be focused for people associated with the armed forces.

"We want to make sure the Kent and Medway Civilian Military Partnership Board have as much information as possible to inform their decision making."

– Jayne Collier-Smith, Kent County Council Project Manager

Sewing 'could help soldiers' mental health issues'

Sewing requires skill and attention

A soldier from Salisbury enjoys sewing so much that he is now determined to encourage others to take up the pass time.

Lieutenant Colonel Neil State believes it could help veterans with mental health problems overcome their issues. His belief centres around the fact that creating something can give people a boost, and a sense of fulfillment.

"I've done everything from modifying ammo pouches to carry mortar bombs, sniper suits and then making curtains for soldiers' accommodation and of course as you heard in Bosnia I actually started making my driver's wedding dress and then in Afghanistan was helping the female engagement teams with the US Marine Corps to teach Afghan ladies how to sew."

– Lieutenant Colonel Neil State
Col Lt State has been spreading the word about sewing's therapeutic benefits

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MOD unveils next generation aircraft at RAF Brize Norton

The first of the UK’s A400M Atlas next-generation military transport aircraft has today been officially unveiled by the MOD at its new home at RAF Brize Norton.

The aircraft will replace the existing fleet of C-130 Hercules which have been the tried and trusted workhorse of the RAF’s Air Transport Fleet for decades.

Manufactured by Airbus Defence & Space, A400M Atlas will represent major advances on its predecessor, capable of flying almost twice as fast, twice as far and carrying almost twice as much cargo.

With a cargo capacity of 32 tonnes and a hold optimised for carriage of heavy vehicles, helicopters or cargo pallets, the aircraft is capable of supporting a wide range of operational scenarios.

The UK is the third country to operate the aircraft, after France and Turkey and the £2.8bn programme will see a total of 22 aircraft delivered to the RAF in the coming years.

The A400M Atlas military aircraft Credit: UK Crown Copyright 2014
The A400M Atlas military aircraft Credit: UK Crown Copyright 2014
The A400M Atlas military aircraft Credit: UK Crown Copyright 2014

British troops end combat operations in Afghanistan

The UK has handed over control of Camp Bastion in Helmand province to Afghan security forces. The move marks the end of the British military presence in the country.

Troops from across the Meridian region were among those serving in Afghanistan in a operation that spanned over a decade. In that time 453 troops lost their lives.

The last Union flag of Great Britain flying above the skies of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, is lowered. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The last Union flag of Great Britain flying in Helmand Province in Afghanistan, is lowered by Captain Matthew Clark, left, and Warrant Officer 1 John Lilley. The Union flag will be returned to the UK by Brigadier Rob Thomson, after a ceremony at Camp Bastion signifying the end of combat operations in Helmand by British and ISAF forces.

Royal Military Academy celebrates Freedom of Borough

Hundreds of people have lined the streets of Camberley to see the officers and staff from the Royal Military Academy (RMA) at Sandhurst march through the town centre in an historic parade.

The 250 personnel from the RMA, including a military band were celebrating being granted the Freedom of the Borough by Surrey Heath Borough Council. The honour gives them the right to march on ceremonial occasions. The event also commemorated the centenary of World War One. Richard Slee reports.

The interviewee is Major General Stuart Skeates, Commandant, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

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£250m military college to be built in Hampshire

The new military college will be based at Worthy Down in Hampshire Credit: Press Association Images

A £250m training college is to be built for the Armed Forces, Defence Minister Andrew Murrison has announced. The Defence College of Logistics, Policing and Administration in Worthy Down, Hampshire, will focus on services such as catering, supply, transport and military human resources.

It will provide living accommodation for up to 2,000 students and staff. Dr Murrison described it as a place where people from all three military services can 'live and learn'. Construction is to begin in late 2014 and is expected to be completed by late 2018.

Troops pay tribute at Salisbury Cathedral

A service took place in Salisbury Cathedral today to mark the return - from Afghanistan - of the 1st Mechanised Brigade based in Wiltshire.

The brigade's main role while on tour was to support and train members of the Afghan Army and Police. As Martin Dowse reports - today was also a chance for the soldiers to remember those who didn't make it back.

Soldiers pay tribute to fallen comrades in Wiltshire

A memorial and thanksgiving service for 1st Mechanized Brigade has been held at Salisbury Cathedral Credit: MoD

The Brigade Commander Brigadier Rupert Jones MBE said: “With the focus of the Brigade being Tidworth and Bulford it is a great privilege for us to be hosted in Salisbury today.

“I think it is very important at the end of a tour that you do commemorate your fallen and sadly we had others back here in Britain who died, it is important to remember them and also pause and remember the Afghans who died during the tour as well.

“This summer the Afghans took the lead for the first time, it was a genuinely decisive moment where they had to stand up and they did that very, very, effectively and exceeded everyone’s expectations, not least their own.

“Now the Brigade turns its attention to the next challenge with the Army restructuring.

“The Brigade will take its rotation on to readiness in due course as we re-role into an Armoured Infantry Brigade in 2014 and that is where our focus is.”

Soldiers fill Salisbury Cathedral at memorial service in Wiltshire Credit: MoD

Soldiers commemorate fallen colleagues

Soldiers from 1 Mechanized Brigade have attended a Thanksgiving & Memorial Service at Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire.

The service marked the return of the Brigade from its recent tour of Afghanistan, and commemorated personnel who lost their lives in Helmand and the UK.

More than 6,000 personnel from the Brigade deployed on Operation Herrick 18 from April to October 2013 as Task Force Helmand (TFH), the first and last deployment that the Brigade will undertake.

“It was a very moving service we were unfortunately commemorating the loss of three personnel in Afghanistan and four from the Brigade who died in the UK.

“So it was a very touching service for all those who knew them including their families.

“This was also a thanksgiving both for the senior officers to thank the troops under their command and for the nation to thank the troops who have been serving in Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 18 for the magnificent work they have done in support of the Afghan National Forces.”

– Philip Dunne MP, Minister for Defence, Equipment, Support and Technology,
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