By Oliver Farrimond
NEW homes for Scotland’s war veterans were officially unveiled in Edinburgh yesterday by Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil.
The development features nine spacious flats for ex-servicemen and women, allowing them to live independently and near to local amenities in the Capital’s Gilmerton Road area.
The flats, funded jointly by the Scottish government, veterans’ charities and the Hillcrest Housing Association, will provide full living facilities, including a kitchen, bedroom, dining room and bathroom.
Re-adapting to a civilian lifestyle is often very challenging for war veterans, and it is hoped that the flats will provide a base for those looking for a fresh start.
Ex-Royal Navy serviceman Alex Menzies is moving into the flats next week, and said that the project was an important step for former soldiers looking to start again.
Mr Menzies, 50, said: “The Scottish government are starting to realise what other countries do for their veterans, and this project is just one example of how things are improving.
“It’s very difficult for some veterans to re-integrate, especially if they’ve been in a theatre of war, so anything that provides you with a front door and a community means a lot.
“It’s actually my birthday next week, and the opportunity to start again and be accepted is the perfect present.”
The flats form part of a broader programme of support for Scots war veterans, and follows the opening of a mental health centre in Edinburgh city centre in April.
Scottish Veterans Residences, who manage more than 150 properties for Scottish ex-soldiers, developed the flats, which are based on the site of an old stable block.
A crowd of servicemen, charity workers and former soldiers were present to watch the ribbon being cut by Alex Neil MSP, who underlined the Scottish government’s commitment to looking after Scotland’s veterans.
He said: “These days veterans can be as young as people in their thirties, or even in their twenties.
“They need a range of support that has to be tailored to their particular requirements – sometimes it’s housing like the Gilmerton project, and sometimes it’s education.
“The Scottish government is committed to providing whatever support is required to help our veterans.
“They’ve sacrificed a lot for our country, and it’s the least we can do to re-pay their loyalty.”