A dementia-friendly community project in Angus is hoping to set up a group to cater for the needs of veterans following a training session at its Kirriemuir base.
Kirrie Connections was singled out by Age Scotland for a training session which will allow the town’s community hub to identify the needs of veterans and help them tap into a range of support and entitlements.
Graham Galloway, hub manager, explained the training with Doug Anthoney, Age Scotland’s veterans’ project community development officer and lead, helped them to identify who would be eligible for additional support.
He said: “Not a lot of people realise, even if you have only one day’s military service or one day’s national service, you count as a veteran.
“We have many veterans at Kirrie Connections but don’t have any veteran-specific sessions.
“There are a number of veterans in our men’s group which meets on a Thursday afternoon, and we also have a sporting memories group and have just started a farming memory club.
“Following this training from Age Scotland we are now considering starting a veterans’ club.
“This would link in well with what we do. It would be a way of helping veterans engage with new people.
“People who have served had a very particular life experience which civilians can’t relate to.
“If they get together they could share their experiences and stories – reminiscing is a very powerful therapy.”
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Age Scotland’s head of policy Adam Stachura said: “Veterans and their families make up 10% of the Scottish population which is why it is so important to ensure as many organisations and individuals as possible recognise the needs of veterans and are up-skilled to effectively support them.
“There are a lot of services which veterans should have access to but they simply might not be aware it is available.
“We are working hard to make sure whatever their need might be, they know who to speak to and can help.
“Age Scotland is delighted to be able to work with Kirrie Connections who do such fantastic work locally for people living with dementia and their carers, to help their staff and volunteers support older military veterans and their families.”
Following the training session Doug Anthoney added: “There is a fantastic environment at Kirrie Connections.
“It seems to be a very enthusiastic and motivated team.
“We are hoping to contribute to help them build on their clear intention of offering a warm welcome to veterans and to help and support them.”
Angus South SNP MSP Graeme Dey, the Scottish Government’s veterans minister, visited Kirrie Connections on Thursday afternoon.
He said: “It was a pleasure to visit Kirrie Connections and see first-hand the excellent work both they and Age Scotland do supporting veterans with dementia.
“I’ve been struck by the passion and enthusiasm shown by the staff, and also their commitment to improving the health and well-being of our older veterans.”