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Letter from the Minister for Defence People and Veterans

Morning All,

See attached letter dissuading veterans from taking up arms against Russia, it states there are better ways to help. Please distribute to your members as you see fit, but avoid SM.


Mike McDonald

Lt Col (Retd) M R McDonald | Area Secretary North | The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers | c/o The Fusilier Museum | Bury | BL9 0DF |

Civil: 0161 763 8969 | Mob: 07855 943963

E-mail: northsec@thefusiliers.org

Fusiliers – England’s infantry at its very best... visit www.thefusiliers.org

Leo Docherty MP
Minister for Defence People and
Veterans [/b]
Cabinet Office 70 Whitehall London
Our reference: MC2022/04729
10 March 2022
Dear colleague,
Supporting Ukraine and the veteran community
The UK, with our international allies, is totally focused on the response to Russia’s recent invasion
of Ukraine and I’m writing to ask for your support with regard to our veteran community. We fully
understand the strength of feeling to support the Ukrainian people following the Russian invasion
– because this is about freedom and democracy in Europe.
With our allies, we are providing a range of support to Ukraine, including to enhance Ukraine’s
defence capability and to provide financial and humanitarian assistance. The UK has been the
leading European supporter of Ukraine’s sovereignty. Since 2015, British troops have trained
more than 20,000 members of the Ukrainian armed forces through Operation Orbital. Challenger
2 tanks, armoured vehicles and 800 additional troops are arriving in Estonia imminently, plus RAF
Typhoon fighter jets have already conducted their first air policing missions across the region,
with an additional four aircraft now based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. This support is necessarily
defensive in nature. We have also put more than 1,000 more British troops at readiness to support
a humanitarian response in the UK. Over the past few days, there have been a number of media
reports of members of our veteran community aspiring to travel to the Ukraine to fight.
I am asking for your assistance in diverting and dissuading any travel attempts that come to your
attention. The UK Government’s position remains that travelling to Ukraine to fight, or to assist
others engaged in the conflict, may amount to offences against UK legislation and could lead to
prosecution. Ukraine needs equipment and funds, rather than volunteers who, although well
meaning, will put further pressure on stretched resources. I am very concerned about the risk to
individuals in what is a dangerous situation. Any attempts to travel should firstly be responded to
in accordance with your safeguarding procedures. As a second port of call, you can contact the
OVA or MOD to discuss any particular issues of concern, including how we might be able to step
up our communications and deterrence efforts. Serving Personnel should also be reminded that
as members of the British Armed Forces, regular or reserve, you are not authorised to travel to
Ukraine to support the ongoing conflict against Russia in any form, whether you are on leave or
There are many ways in which our veteran community can make a difference during this period,
including through charitable donations. The UK government has pledged to match fund donations
to the Disasters Emergency Committee. I encourage everyone in our Armed Forces community
to show their strong generosity of spirit and dedication to public service by donating and
fundraising for this important cause. The government has outlined further ways in which people
can help here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ukraine-what-you-can-do-to-help and I
would be grateful if you are able to highlight this within the community where possible. Charities
and service associations provide a vital source of support and comradeship to our veterans and
through your networks you can play a key role in helping channel the energies and enthusiasm
of the community in the most impactful way possible. I remain of course extremely grateful for the
support you will be providing to those in the community who find their mental health and wellbeing
affected by the war and encourage you to ensure that anyone who needs it is referred to the
appropriate help:
● Details on Op Courage and the NHS support available for veterans in England can be
found here:
● Support can also be accessed through Veterans UK’s helpline, which can link callers to
the Samaritans veterans programme.
● The Veterans’ Gateway has an around the clock support service:
● NHS Wales has a Veteran Therapist (VT) in each Local Health Board (LHB):
● NHS Scotland has health resources dedicated to veterans:
● The Northern Ireland Veterans’ Support Office (NIVSO) is the lead support and
signposting service linking individual veterans, veterans’ groups, statutory and nonstatutory bodies, and charities supporting veterans in Northern Ireland:
If you have any concerns or wish to discuss this further with my officials, please do not hesitate
to contact Jessie Owen and the OVA team.
Leo Docherty MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for
Defence People and Veterans

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