Living, working and socialising in the communities they served throughout the Troubles, the men and women of the Ulster Defence Regiment CGC were viewed as easy targets by terrorists.
They paid a heavy price for their dedicated service, with more than 200 making the ultimate sacrifice and hundreds more injured or traumatised.
Many have suffered in silence, or fallen on hard times since the regiment was consigned to the history books in 1992, but a new campaign has been a launched to raise awareness of a range of valuable help available.
The UDR Benevolent Fund is designed to provide support for former members, their families and dependants who are in need. It was established in 1972 to ensure those who served would be looked after in the years to come.
Chairman Wesley Duncan has appealed for anyone who knows of a former UDR member in need to either contact the Benevolent Fund on their behalf, or to pass on the relevant contact information.
“Need can be anything from someone who has fallen on hard times and has to choose between eating and heating, to someone who is ill and needs specialised equipment to help improve their quality of life. What we are doing is reaching out to those who have forgotten about us or haven’t needed us in the past,” he said.
”We normally assist former members, their families or dependants with things or interventions like food vouchers, an oil fill, a specialised bed if someone has found themselves ill. Each individual’s circumstances are unique.
“There is no cap in what we do. It might also be that we signpost to some of our sister organisations who are more specialised.”
A number of trustees oversee the allocation of grants which address genuine need rather than fund lifestyle choices.
Mr Duncan said that a certain amount of information will need to be provided in each case, but stressed that all applications are dealt with in the strictest confidence by fully-trained professionals.
“What we want is people to come forward so that we can help them. We would ask them to make the first call so we can talk to them.
“We are not asking anyone to complete paperwork.
“Once someone makes contact with them we have a quick conversation and ask their permission to send a fully qualified case work to their home.
“The case worker’s knowledge and expertise in dealing with these issues are second to none,” Mr Duncan added.
The UDR Benevolent Fund can be contacted on 028 90 420 137 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
• Case studies of former UDR members assisted by the Benevolent Fund
Man aged 74 referred by a neighbour who knew he had military service and was concerned about his well being.
A caseworker worker visited and discovered that he had no heating for some considerable time as his boiler had broken, no means of making hot food as his cooker was no longer serviceable, and his washing machine was worn out. He didn’t have the financial means to remedy the situation.
The Benevolent Fund was able to make an immediate intervention in terms of having his boiler repaired and supplied new electrical goods.
A 58-year-old who was suffering from a terminal illness, and in great discomfort, was provided with a riser recliner chair and specialist mattress for her bed.
A married 51-year-old with three children, who had just lost his job and was struggling to manage his finances and pay his bills, received assistance with an oil fill, food vouchers and two monthly mortgage payments while he tried to find new employment.
A couple who were in receipt of a disability grant to adapt their bathroom to help them to cope with a debilitating illness, but were struggling to meet their personal contribution, received a donation towards the cost.