A Scottish charity, which had helped support thousands of forces personnel and secure them millions of pounds in benefits, celebrates its 1oth anniversary today.
The Armed Service Advice Project (ASAP) has helped around 15,900 clients since it was formed in 2010, putting a total of £17.6m into their pockets through welfare benefits, unpaid wages, compensation and other funding sources.
Run by Citizens Advice Scotland and funded by a coalition of military charities, led by Poppyscotland, ASAP offers specialist advice and support to veterans as well as serving forces personnel and their families.
ASAP National Organiser, Claire Williams, said: “Most ex-service people get through life OK, but like everyone else, they sometimes do need support with things like debt, poverty, housing or work issues.
“Seeing a client come through the door looking like the whole world is on their shoulders, and then seeing them leave with a smile, full of relief, is just such a wonderful feeling.
Former soldier, Bruce Fraser, from Inverkeithing, Fife, who served in the Royal Scots 25 years in Northern Ireland, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands, has been one of those to benefit.
Bruce, who suffered physical and mental health issues after leaving the forces in 1993, said: “When my social security was changed I did find it difficult to ask for help, but I’m so glad I did.
“The ASAP team don’t just do the job, they are also really friendly and always happy to talk. I now have some peace of mind, thanks to them.”
Suzie Martin from Dairsie, Fife, who served in the WRNS and later Royal Navy and was awarded a NATO medal, also welcomed the support of ASAP.
“If it had not been for my ASAP adviser I would be still in that very dark place,” said Suzie.
Meanwhile, former soldier, John Tervet, who served in Northern Ireland and Germany, said ASAP staff had gone “over and beyond” in their support when he was recovering from open heart surgery.