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14 January 2019, 06:00
Two Scottish universities have joined together to help armed forces veterans find new careers and adapt to civilian life.
Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), Edinburgh Napier University (ENU) and Veterans Scotland will jointly host an event on Tuesday in Glasgow to exhibit how universities and colleges can support ex-military personnel and their families.
In Scotland, there are around 237,000 veterans of different ages, social backgrounds and length of service.
GCU and ENU are both signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant, a promise from the nation that those who serve or have served in the military and their families are treated fairly.
The event forms part of the GCU-HM Forces Learning Partnership, designed specifically for military personnel looking to advance their career or change direction.
Jim Castle, GCU's Veterans and Armed Forces champion, said that many of the skills learned by veterans during their time in service can be transferred across different industries.
"All servicemen and women have been trained in battlefield evacuation", said Mr Castle.
"They learn how to treat someone who has been badly injured, to keep them alive until medics arrive and airlift them to the nearest hospital base.
"This is called 'the golden hour', and the theory is that if you can keep someone alive for an hour they will survive. This is a massive skill and they all have it.
"They also have physical fitness, leadership skills, decision making, commitment, respect for others, teamwork, loyalty, integrity, discipline and courage to name just a few.
"In a nutshell, they have a huge range of transferable skills, which combined with education, will maximise their potential and make them highly employable and major assets to society and the economy."
Speakers at the event include GCU principal and vice-chancellor Professor Pamela Gillies, MSPs Annie Wells and Maurice Corry, Scottish Veterans Commissioner Colonel Charlie Wallace and Deputy Commander of 51 Infantry Brigade and HQ Scotland Colonel Sandy Fitzpatrick.
Professor Nolan, principal and vice-chancellor of ENU, said: "Former armed forces personnel have so much to offer in terms of skills and life experience.
"As a university, we are committed to supporting their transition to civilian life and future career development through mentoring programmes for veterans who work with us and flexible entry paths on to degree courses for prospective students."
Scottish Conservative MSP Annie Wells said it was "fantastic" that GCU was taking the joint lead in supporting Scotland's veterans reach their full potential after leaving the military.
Ms Well said: "All too often we hear of cases of those in the military who have been let down upon their attempts to integrate back into civilian life. Initiatives such as this will go a long way in ensuring positive outcomes for those who have served our country so well."
Former Scots Guardsman John Templeton, who is now a registered mental health nurse after graduating from GCU in November, said that being part of the support network at GCU had changed his life.
He said: "I think the GCU-HM Forces Learning Partnership does a great job. We need to shout it from the rooftops and let people know about it".
Kevin Helton, 34, is married with a two-year-old daughter and lives in South Ayrshire.
He is studying for a BSc(Hons) in Building Surveying at GCU and hopes to graduate this summer.
He said: "Being at university has been tough. That said, the best things in life do not come easily. University has opened my eyes to a world outside of the military which was much needed."