Ministerial backing for identifying service veterans on driving licences

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Veterans could have their driving licences or GP records marked to show they served in the armed forces, a defence minister has said.

Tobias Ellwood said the options were under consideration as part of Government plans to improve the information it keeps about ex-military personnel.

His comments at Defence questions in the Commons came in response to Labour's Chris Elmore, who asked what ministers thought about plans to ask people if they had served in the military as part of the next census.

Tobias Ellwood would like to see driving licences marked to show military service
Tobias Ellwood would like to see driving licences marked to show military service (PA Archive)

Mr Ellwood said: "I'd be delighted to say that I'm very much supportive of this.

"The more information that we have and understanding who our veterans are, and whether it be through a veterans ID card, or whether it be through, as we're looking at now with the Secretary of State, on changing the driving licence so that there is a symbol on there to show that you're a veteran, or indeed on GP records as well.

"This is all supportive of the veterans and that's the direction of travel that we should go."

Ogmore MP Mr Elmore had asked the minister: "One of the ways in which the minister can ensure better information is stored is in terms of the national census.

"The ONS (Office for National Statistics) said last week that veterans, former armed forces personnel, should be included as a new question on the census.

"So could he comment on what his response would be to the ONS decision?"

Earlier Mr Ellwood had called for an end to "myths" that veterans were more susceptible to things like mental health problems.

Re-iterated case made by @PoppyLegion#CountThemIn campaign in #DefenceQuestions to include veterans question on the national census census pic.twitter.com/wVumz3mMYh

-- Chris Elmore MP (@CPJElmore) October 23, 2017

"All of this House I think respects and reveres our armed forces," he said.

"But we need to bury these myths that somehow if you join the armed forces you'll be more likely to have mental health problems, more likely to have PTSD and more likely to commit suicide than the general population.

"This is not the case, absolutely not the case."

The minister said there were 2.5 million veterans in the UK, and that of the 15,000 who now leave the forces every year 90% get into jobs or education within six months.