Soldier’s wife stands up for pension justice

jolene

On 13 June this year, my husband, Sergeant Michael Anderson, was told he is to be made redundant just three days before qualifying for his military pension. This means Michael will lose almost half of his promised pension.

Michael has been a soldier from the age of 16. He was serving in Northern Ireland at 18, and at 19 was posted to Bosnia followed by a tour in Iraq in 2004. He is now a Welfare Officer and has had the difficult task of supporting families of soldiers killed in action and the severely physically and mentally injured.

Our family, like all service families, accept and have dealt with the highs and lows of army life. We have been honoured to be part of the army family and would very much like to continue to be part of it. Our second child was born when Michael was serving in Iraq. The proudest moment for me was handing Michael his newborn son when he came home. As you can imagine, a very difficult yet joyful time for us both.

Having put duty before family on so many occasions, I cannot now see why the loyalty and commitment we have shown is not being reciprocated by this Government.

When Michael was informed of his redundancy I felt like my heart had been ripped out, more for Michael than me. Everything he knew and had worked for from the age of 16 taken away. We had planned on using the pension to secure a mortgage when we left army accommodation and to support our young family while Michael established a new career on civvy street. After a life of service for our country our family’s financial security has now been cruelly snatched away from us.

The military pension is the key financial promise on which service personnel are recruited, retained and promoted. Calling it a “pension” is really not correct, it is more akin to a resettlement payment. It exists to assist service personnel transit with dignity to civilian life and is a promise around which all army families plan their financial futures.

David Cameron has made commitments to men like my husband as part of the Military Covenant. He said “that those willing to lay down their lives for the country have a right to expect they will be dealt with properly.” But the treatment of my husband, and others in similar situations show the promises the Government made to our military are being forgotten.

Redundancies sometimes need to be made but I believe soldiers who are a few months, or in Michael’s case, days from achieving their pension should be given redundancy payouts that reflect such dramatic pension losses, pensions they have always been led to expect and rely on when leaving the services.

Please sign the petition below and help get a fair outcome for Michael and my family. Help safeguard the Military Pension for all soldiers today and those signing up tomorrow.

http://change.org/pensionjusticefortroops

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10 Comments

  1. how low and sneaky can any Government sink

  2. It never ceases to amaze me, how callous, successive Governments are in the way they treat our veterans.
    Theres an old poem that sums this up…..
    Its Tommy this and Tommy that and throw him out the lout,
    but Tommy is a hero, when the bullets fly about.

    God bless our armed forces.

  3. Deakin

    It’s happened before,but in the 70s we didn’t think of complaining. I also felt that i missed out on a proper pension having expected a full career to age 55, and a permanent commission! Perhaps it’s not too late for the over 80s to gain some recompense.

    • Dear Mr Deakin,

      Thank you for your comment. I have heard about this injustice that servicemen before 1975 are still fighting for. I don’t know all the ins and outs of the case, but I feel this may be a reason that the Govt is failing to act on this present day Injustice…because it may open up the way for others to seek recompense for what they rightly deserve in pension payments. That is just my theory. But if true, more reason to try and get justice for this few now, and hopefully it will help those who missed out in previous redundancies. The difference today I suppose, is not the feeling of injustice and betrayal…which I am sure are exactly the same today as yesterday, but today we have the Internet and the means to highlight the Injustice to many more people and to wave it vigorously under the noses of politicians to do something about! I do hope you can sign our new petition! Jolene Anderson won her case! We managed to get 100,000 signatures in 3 days and MOD caved in under people power! Her husband now will get his full pension, That is why we have set up a new petition. We need votes and we need votes quickly! Thank you again for your comment. All the very best.
      http://change.org/pensionjusticefortroops

  4. Liz Banks

    This is the reply I received from my MP

    Thank you for contacting me about Armed Forces pensions. I think it is important that we continue to support and value the extraordinary service offered by our Armed Forces.

    In order to eliminate the £38 billion black hole in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) budget that we inherited from our predecessor, the Department has had to reduce the size of the Regular Armed Forces to ensure that they can be properly equipped in the future. I do not underestimate the task at hand: the MoD is facing the challenging task of reducing our Armed Forces by some 33,000 by 2020 across the whole rank structure.

    The MoD has aimed to ensure that the redundancy programme is as fair as possible to all involved, including commissioned ranks, as we move to reshape the Armed Forces for the security challenges of the future. It is, unfortunately, inevitable that wherever a line is drawn, there will always be individuals who narrowly miss out.

    When selecting personnel of the Armed Forces for compulsory redundancy, no special consideration was given to the proximity of the immediate pension point. Only approximately 1.2 per cent of those made redundant are close to their immediate pension point. As we reduce the size of the Armed Forces, the priority is to ensure that the services maintain the correct balance of those skills and experience across rank structures that are required to deliver operational capability now and in the future. That is what has determined the redundancy criteria.

    The redundancy schemes recognise those who narrowly miss out on immediate incomes by paying them significantly enhanced tax-free redundancy compensation lump sums. Those who leave before the qualification point will still get their preserved pensions at the age of 60 or 65. Armed Forces pensions remain among the most generous in the public or private sector. I hope this reassures you that we continue to recognise the unique role and sacrifice of the military, which is why the Armed Forces continue to benefit from non-contributory pension schemes.

    Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

    Yours sincerely,

    Rt Hon George Osborne MP

    I’m not sure whether the pension justice for troops campaigners have seen this, as I expect it is a standard response? I think it is sad that the ‘line drawn’ concerning when people are laid off and the exit packages they receive, leave people feeling so undervalued and unfairly treated. I hope the government will reconsider their approach in order to be more measured in their response to the campaign.

    • Dear Liz,
      First thanks for taking the time and trouble to email your MP. You are correct in thinking this is the standard Govt response, which we find truly appalling. First turning what is clearly NOT a party political matter, ie fair treatment of individual servicemen and women, into one, by trying to blame a previous Government for a policy which ALL Parliamentarians of whatever hue had a responsibility to oversee and scrutinise.

      Secondly for actually admitting that the Immediate Pension was not taken into consideration when the Immediate Pension is THE key financial promise on which service personnel commit to long service and around which they have planned their families financial futures. Begging the question, when senior ranks, Ministers et al knew how important the Immediate Pension was why wasn’t it taken into consideration?!? To NOT have realised that those caught close to the line would be suffering huge cliff-edge pension losses and not to have planned for this, (as any civilian redundancy programme would according to pension experts we have spoken to), is either gross incompetence, negligence or a deliberate attempt to make savings on the backs of longserving service personnel who, without any representation or rights to protest are easy targets for a Govt hellbent on “filling in” so called MOD black holes to Treasury and political timetables and not military or moral ones.

      Finally, to quote a statistic of 1.2% is shameful. From the information we have managed to gleen from questions in Parliament this is between 55-130 individuals. Distilling individual loyalty, commitment and honourable service of men and women prepared to risk life and limb on all our behalf,( including the very politicians who are lumping these men and women into an impersonal statistic they hope somehow diminishes the issue), only serves to illustrate how utterly out of touch they are with what is really at stake here, and it has nothing to do with money, and all to do with the Values and Standards by which these men and women and have served, and that is TRUST, LOYALTY & REPECT.

      The fact that so few are actually affected and yet there is an still an unwillingness to put the matter right or even investigate it officially, is just not acceptable. The Government is hoping that the matter will be forgotten and brushed under the carpet before the next election.

      Hopefully, support from the public like you Liz, will keep the issue alive and we can get the petition moving again and sending a clear message to the Govt to act. How can any young person signing up today believe the promises made to them if longserving soldiers of the so called “warrior generation” are treated in such a manner. They simply can’t.

      Thank you again for your great support.

      All the best and a very Happy New Year!

      Jayne

      Sent from my iPad

      • Liz Banks

        Would there be any point in my replying to the MP’s response letter? Is there anything more I could do to help? I don’t really expect our government or representatives to do more than blame the previous administration. That’s what they all do after all and they did inherit the financial crisis and we do want them to help us recover across the board, but I am sorry to read of the people who have been unfairly treated in this process and think they need to reexamine ways to recover the debt without breaking promises about the pensions issue. I agree they should not be talking to us about percentages as if those numbers were insignificant. If it were a member of their own family they’d view that differently. When your child has cancer and they tell you the good news is 80% of the children with this type are cured, you consider very soberly than 1/5 in the room you’re in are going to die! Not much comfort in the numbers in that context. So my heart goes out to you as you fight against this injustice.

      • Dear Liz,
        It would be very helpful if you could explain the issue to your friends and family and, if they are willing, to sign our change.org petition. Wrting back to Mr Osborne may not be productive use of your time!

        I absolutely agree that the financial crises needed to be addressed, but I cannot beleive it is impossible for Government Officials to take a “creative” look at the issue to ensure an honourable solution for all sides, given that so few are affected and given the importance of upholding the Covenant for all who serve.

        If the Governement can honour its procurement contracts to businesses, and the MOD waste millions in botched deals/equipment, then it seems completely unfair and unacceptable that it can’t honour the employment “contracts” of its frontline staff!(as you probably know, service personnel serve under the Covenant and do not have the same employment rights which might have protected them in situations like this)

        Your statistic analogy is a good one. Redundancy is always painful and emotional. When the redundancy entails a job you have been willing to die for it is even more devastating when you feel you have been unfairly treated. The soldiers affected by this injustice are finding it very difficult to come to terms with,not because it is affecting them, (they are trained to deal with stresses and strains on their own pyche and body), but because this is affecting their families welfare. They feel terribly that they have let their families down by making them a false promise of a pension, a pension they were told in writing they would be getting and which they had every legitimate expectation to receive.

        As you will see in our blog, the partners of these men have given up careers and pension contributions to keep their young families together and support their spouse on the many moves that service life involves and when they are on deployment. This, they don’t complain about in itslef. They understood what service life entailed, the good and the bad. They fully accepted the loneliness and terror of waiting at home during deployments, for six/seven months at a time. What they didn’t expect was the betrayal of their partner’s loyalty and committment to an institution and a Parliament that they had served to the best of their ability and what boils down to a broken Governement promise regarding their pension.

        Thank you for your kind words and efforts Liz. I will pass them on to those affected. It really means a lot to know the public, unlike the Government, are willing to dig deeper into the detail and understand the issue and why it must be put right.
        All the best
        Jayne

      • Liz Banks

        Dear Jayne,
        My statistical analogy was a personal one – my daughter is one of the 4/5 survivors, but we have lived alongside the mothers and families of the 1/5 who didn’t make it. I strongly dislike the use of statistics, particularly when they are attempting to dehumanise – but then I prefer the term personnel to human resource (which to me is LESS human and sounds more disposable). We are talking about people, their loved ones and not just their national insurance or service number at the end of the day and this is what politicians train themselves to disregard in order to push forward their agendas.m
        I wish and pray for you God’s favour, as you pursue your cause and will promote your campaign amongst my friends and families.

        Many blessings

        Liz

      • Dear Liz,
        Very pleased to hear your daughter came through that… a trauma for all the family no doubt about it, but unbearable for the families with loved ones who don’t make it through.

        Thank you for your prayers and wishes. I am an enternal opitimist and truly believe in the small actions in life can make a difference….each letter written, each signature on the petition….are “the ripples that build the river”. One of the Officers affected gave me this phrase to hang on to last year…”dripping water hollows stone, not through force, but through persistence” (Ovid) …it has served me well over the last year and a half…

        Wishing you and your family well.
        Onwards!
        Jayne

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