21/04/2008

UDR Care Scheme Launched

A care service worth £2 million annually to help ex-UDR and Royal Irish (Home Service) soldiers and their families deal with the legacy of the Troubles was today officially opened by the UK's most senior military figure, General Sir Richard Dannatt, Professional Head of the British Army.

The setting up of the UDR & R Irish (HS) Aftercare Service fulfilled a pledge by Government that a publicly funded welfare organisation would be set up as part of an overall resettlement package.

After visiting the centre at Palace Barracks and at nearby Maryfield, where he met clients of the Aftercare Service and their families, Sir Richard said: "This is a unique facility for what has been a unique situation of over 40 years of civil disorder and deadly terrorism.

"From what I have seen today I am delighted at the way that the service has met with a significant response from our ex UDR and Royal Irish colleagues and that the benefits are being readily appreciated by them and their families."

Specifically the service combines existing welfare provision with the offer of medical and vocational programmes in a 'whole person' approach to meet the particular needs of former UDR and Royal Irish (Home Service) personnel as they seek to adjust to civilian life.

A second phase to the advertising campaign will start in the next two weeks to reach out to and advise ex-soldiers who may qualify for on-going welfare and benevolent support, including access to the medical programme and vocational assistance.

The vocational re-training award may be available to the 2,000 full-time members of the Home Service who have been discharged since 1 August 2005.

Medical services are being provided through the Police Rehabilitation and Retraining Trust (PRRT) based in Belfast. PRRT has been providing these and other services to ex RUC and PSNI officers since 1999.

(BMcC/JM)

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