This week is Armed Forces Week and I would like to express my gratitude to all serving and former Armed Forces personnel for their enormous contribution to our country.
I was delighted to be able to join local Help for Heroes’ volunteers at their fundraiser at Tesco’s Portwood branch on Sunday 18th June. I thank them for all that they do to assist veterans and their families. It is the efforts of volunteers up and down the country that mean Help for Heroes is able to carry out its vitally important work providing veterans with the support that they deserve.
I also thank Help for Heroes’ Supporter Experience Manager, Trevor Fudger, who said of the event on Sunday: “It was great for our fundraisers to see that their local MP backs our efforts to raise sufficient funds to allow us to continue supporting veterans and their families.”
As Mr Fudger highlighted, too many of the estimated 2,000,000 veterans in this country are struggling to live well after service. This is why Help for Heroes are so crucial – helping veterans from any branch of the UK military and their families to access the support that they need after service.
It is clear that the Conservative government is failing in this regard. I recently spoke in a parliamentary debate about veterans and highlighted that the government has failed to provide any additional funding support for veterans amidst the worst cost of living crisis in decades. We are seeing former and even serving Armed Forces personnel using food banks. This is a disgrace. You can read my full contribution to the debate here: tinyurl.com/3hmv9sbs.
I also raised the experience of one of my constituents who, as a former Army reserve, has been denied access to his Immediate Pension after being forced to retire at age 58. I will be writing to the Minister for Defence to ask why it is only reserves in the Army that are forced to retire at this age, preventing them from accessing the Immediate Pension that becomes available to officers, Navy and RAF reserves at age 60, and what assessment the MOD has made about the impact that this is having on former Army reserves, as well as retention levels in this regiment, which are low.
The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation to ensure that those who serve or who have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly and with respect. Under the Conservative government, this promise has been broken. I am proud to say that the next Labour Government will incorporate the Armed Forces Covenant into law to ensure that veterans’ needs can no longer be ignored.
To donate to Help for Heroes, please visit: https://tinyurl.com/yc5dettv