The Tories are promising to make Scotland a “country fit for heroes” with a series of measures to help the country’s veterans.
Scottish Conservatives pledged to use Holyrood’s devolved welfare powers to introduce top-up payments for former military personnel in “greatest need”, as well as giving them assistance in getting on the housing ladder.
Party leader Douglas Ross said the changes were needed because “too many veterans and families are failed, and their sacrifices go unrecognised”.
He added: “While many thrive and prosper after their military service, some end up homeless, struggle to get medical care or some even become trapped in a cycle of reoffending.”
The Tories want to reintroduce the Help to Buy scheme, which allowed buyers to purchase a new-build property without a large deposit – with a “specific element” of this aimed at helping veterans.
In addition to this, they are promising a new top-up benefit for former services personnel who are now on Universal Credit, which would be worth £10 a week.
The changes would help some of the 220,000 veterans living in Scotland, with Mr Ross insisting: “We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our servicemen and women, but warm words are not enough.”
Legislation is also planned, with the Tories promising an Armed Forces and Veterans Bill if they win the May 6 election, to enshrine the armed forces covenant – a pledge to treat those who have served and their families fairly – into law for devolved public bodies, such as local councils and the NHS.
The Tory leader said this would “ensure that military personnel in Scotland are guaranteed access to a variety of key services”.
Mr Ross said: “The Scottish Conservatives stand shoulder to shoulder with our armed forces and veteran community. That is why we fought at Westminster for personnel stationed in Scotland to be compensated for the SNP’s higher income taxes so that they don’t receive less pay than those serving in the armed forces anywhere else in the UK.
“We truly value the sacrifices made by those who have served our country and know how difficult the transition to civilian life can be.
“We want servicemen and women who choose to make Scotland their home know that they are in a country fit for heroes.”
Veterans Minister Graeme Dey said: “The SNP has a proud track record when it comes to standing up for our military communities and their families – including through action to improve employment opportunities, supporting almost 200 projects through the Scottish Veterans Fund, and bringing in the Veterans Railcard at a cheaper introductory rate than elsewhere in the UK.”
He added: “We will work with anyone to properly support our veterans community but the Tories’ claim to champion our armed forces rings hollow to those who have seen the chronic underinvestment and years of brutal cuts, which have removed any trace of the Army from large parts of Scotland.
“The Tories have shown they simply can’t be trusted to protect our armed forces after presiding over a decade of real-terms wage cuts for our military personnel, failing to invest in military housing, and missing recruitment targets.”