Despite a long and distinguished military tradition, there are now very few Armed Forces personnel stationed at Aberdeenshire. A notable exception is the Victoria Barracks in Ballater, Royal Deeside, where members of The Royal Guard are stationed when HM Queen Elizabeth is in residence at Balmoral Castle for three months each summer. There are also members of the community who are serving in the Armed Forces and many on active service.
Armed Forces Day
Each year Aberdeenshire Council marks Armed Forces Day with a special event at council headquarters in Aberdeen. Dignitaries and council officials are joined by representatives from all branches of the Armed Forces to honour service men and women of past, present and future. The council joins communities across Britain in marking Armed Forces Day by raising a commemorative flag in the grounds of Woodhill House.
Armed Forces Community Covenant
Aberdeenshire Council is in the process of signing up to the Armed Forces Community Covenant. The covenant is a voluntary statement of mutual support between a civilian community and its local Armed Forces community. The aim is to nurture understanding and awareness amongst the public of the issues affecting the Armed Forces community.
A grant scheme of £30 million over four years is available through the community covenant.
The aim is to broaden signatories to the covenant, to include other service providers and Third Sector organisations. Progress will be made through the Community Planning Partnership Board. In February 2013, members of the council’s Policy and Resources Committee agreed to the Covenant and instructed officers to conclude the signatory process.
An upcoming change to Aberdeenshire Council’s allocation policy will see the introduction of a local connection priority which will be awarded to those being discharged from the armed forces. This means armed services personnel who apply to the council for housing will receive an element of additional priority, whether they stay in Aberdeenshire or not. For anybody applying who has been medically discharged from the armed forces, the seriousness and extent of their injuries will be reflected in the priority given to their application within the banding system of the Allocation Policy.
The changes will be brought in by October 2013.
External support for Armed Forces personnel
Details of some organisations outside Aberdeenshire Council which provide support for local Armed Forces personnel and veterans:
- Douneside House in Royal Deeside is owned by The MacRobert Trust. From May until the end of September (and during Christmas and Easter) it operates as a holiday country house for serving or retired commissioned officers of the Armed Services and their family. For more information, visit: www.dounesidehouse.co.uk
- HorseBack UK, also in Royal Deeside, is a charity which helps to rehabilitate injured Armed Services personnel and veterans using a combination of horse-riding, rural skills and adventure training. For more information, visit: www.horsebackuk.org
- Combat Stress provides help and support to veterans suffering from psychological wounds following tours of duty. For more information, go to www.combatstress.org.uk
- Scottish Veterans Residences provides accommodation for ex-servicemen and women of all ages. For more information, go to www.svronline.org