Former soldier brings motion on veterans' care and suicide to council

Councillor Will Stone, pictures when he was a Rifleman with his former soldier father, has brought a motion to Swindon Borough Council
Councillor Will Stone, pictures when he was a Rifleman with his former soldier father, has brought a motion to Swindon Borough Council

A former soldier turned borough councillor who has lost comrades to suicide has asked Swindon Borough Council to do more to help ex service personnel.

Before being elected as a Labour councillor for Rodbourne Cheney in May, Coun Will Stone spent five years as a rifleman in the 1st Battalion of The Rifles regiment – the modern continuation of the historic Wiltshire regiment, along with others, such as the Berkshire and Gloucestershire regiments.

He has submitted a motion to full council which is to be debated this week, saying that the experience of former service personnel should be taken into account when making provision for them.

The motion says: “The council should use the lived experiences of veterans when taking decisions to support their mental and physical health.

"The council already undertakes praiseworthy work to support veterans, but while they are still taking their own lives, more should and needs to be done.”

If the motion is passed it will ask the recently appointed Armed Forces Champion of the borough council, Chiseldon councillor Lawrence Ellito, to “write to the Army, Navy, and RAF welfare services to ask for advice".

“The Armed Forces Champion should then write a report for the adults' health, care and housing committee on their findings, to help improve the support that the council provides.”

Coun Stone told the Local Democracy Reporting Service this motion has personal significance for him: “This is a subject close to my heart.

“I left the army five years ago, and in this short period of time, four people I had the pleasure of serving with have taken their lives.

"This is truly heart-breaking. These are just the people I knew personally. The figures on veterans’ suicide are staggeringly high, on average 90 a year.

“I feel we owe them and their families more. We need to do our best to protect the people who have once protected us.

“Swindon has a proud military history. Let's honour that by being a leading council in supporting our service personnel.”

The military covenant is an agreement between the armed forces, the nation and the government which aims to ensure that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly, and that they deserve special consideration in some cases, but no general advantage."

The full council meeting starts at 7pm on Thursday 29 September.