23 September 2022 | Comment | Article by Simon Ellis
Isobel Stokes, a Paralegal in the Military department discusses the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS), and the failings of the Government in providing inadequate support and compensation for veterans.
The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) was designed to help veterans live a full and dignified life post-service. However, a recent article from The Telegraph suggests that the scheme “damages people” and leaves them with “no trust in or respect for the process.”
Those who have attempted to place an AFCS claim are faced with a “flawed system” which experiences long delays and attempts to downplay injuries to minimise financial pay-outs.
These claims echo the experiences of James Hill, a former Royal Marine, who was injured in Afghanistan when raiding a Taliban compound. James had his hip shattered by a high-velocity bullet resulting in internal complications and endless treatment. However, the AFCS categorised his injury as a leg fracture, and he only received an “adequate” financial award after seven years of haggling.
However, the failings of the AFCS go deeper than the level of compensation. The Telegraph also recounts experiences whereby injured soldiers have been “laughed at” and “belittled” by officials involved in awarding pay-outs.
A current serving officer was subjected to derogatory and insulting remarks about his Welsh nationality and intelligence during a consultation about his AFCS claim. It was also suggested that he did not look like he had a blast injury following an explosion in Afghanistan in 2009.
These experiences reflect the fact that the AFCS regularly fails to treat veterans as individuals worthy of compassion and respect. We are taught to look up to and appreciate those who have served our country. However, through the AFCS, the Government is failing to do the bare minimum and recognise the duty of care they hold.
Our armed forces are frequently sent to places we don’t want to go, to do a job we aren’t prepared to do ourselves, all in our name. The least they are entitled to expect in return is our respect and the right to fair compensation for injuries sustained in service, paid without delay. The Government would do well to reflect on whether it meets this most basic requirement.
Those who have suffered injury because of their service should not be humiliated by the scheme designed to support them. Here at Hugh James, we are frequently able to guide people through the civil procedure for noise-induced hearing loss and often advise on whether an AFCS claim can be challenged, even when they have previously been rejected under the scheme. We hope the Government will take urgent action to address these failings and work to ensure that all individuals pursuing compensation receive the fair treatment and compassion they deserve.
If you believe that you have been inadequately compensated through the AFCS, then please get in touch with one of our experts today.
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