The council have strengthened its support for armed forces veterans after agreeing to make two more homes available in the community.

West Dunbartonshire Council currently has eight properties available to those leaving the military and has now enhanced that offering after an agreement was reached with charity Veterans Housing Scotland.

The deal will see the homes available each year, with the veteran placed in them also offered tailored support from both the charity and the Council.

The location of the two homes to be added to Veterans Housing Scotland’s roster will be identified by the Council and the charity.

Councillor Gurpreet Singh Johal welcomed the news which will help those servicemen and women who can often find civilian life difficult.

Cllr Johal said: “I welcome this new partnership which will strengthen the support the Council already provides for veterans.

"The experiences many veterans face while serving mean it can be really difficult for them after they return to society.

"Even sustaining a tenancy can be a struggle and that is why it is important that as well as the provision of a safe and secure home, we also offer regular support to ensure they can thrive and avoid becoming homeless.”

The charity currently has 650 homes to offer veterans across the country and properties are advertised on the Veterans Housing Scotland website, through which veterans can apply.

Many experience mental or physical challenges following their time in the armed forces and are therefore at a greater risk of experiencing homelessness.

Councillor Hazel Sorrell added: “The extent of homelessness among veterans is recognised nationally, so it’s fantastic that as a Council we are taking action to prevent it coming to that.

"Our veterans have made huge sacrifices for the country and deserve every support we can give them.

“It is pleasing to see that our Council is continuing to look at ways to enhance and strengthen the support on offer and I hope this provides some comfort to serving personnel, veterans and their families.”

The new partnership is in addition to a range of supports offered to armed forces personnel and their families, including the 2016 signing of the Council’s armed forces covenant committing to providing practical support including employment advice, flexible working and housing assistance.

In 2019 the Council was awarded the Gold Award in the Armed Forces Employer Recognition Scheme.

Work is ongoing to consider additional steps that can now be taken to ensure residents with links to the armed forces continue to receive respect and fair treatment.

This includes reinstating armed forces peer support groups, the use of local museum space to preserve and share the stories of armed forces personnel, and training sessions for school head teachers so they can signpost families to relevant services.

The Council will also be establishing an armed forces pupil ambassador to ensure children and young people with serving family members are properly supported too.