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We must do more to support our Armed Forces

Gloria De Pieiro marking Armed Forces Day with fellow Labour MP Nia Griffith
Gloria De Pieiro marking Armed Forces Day with fellow Labour MP Nia Griffith

The fantastic contribution and sacrifices made by our servicemen and women were celebrated last weekend at the annual Armed Forces Day.

This is a really important chance to reflect on the work of our service personnel, veterans, cadets and service families and I am proud that it was introduced by Labour back in 2006.

It is finding out more about what service personnel do for us that has made me think more about what we as a country do for them.

Currently, I feel the armed forces are being failed on pay, on housing and on veterans’ welfare.

The public sector pay cap is still in force for the forces.

Labour would lift it to give our servicemen and women a deserved pay rise.

We also need to ensure that service family accommodation is maintained to a high standard and at a reasonable cost to service personnel.

Recruitment and retention also continue to be major issues.

The forces are understaffed by six per cent so recruitment is an issue that needs addressing urgently.

Bringing contracts back in house may be the best way to guarantee an acceptable level of service.

Many of the problems that veterans face when they come back from fighting in wars or leave the forces are also well known and can include mental health problems, addictions and homelessness.

I back plans to help servicemen and women make a smoother transition back to civilian life, creating a veterans’ register so that their needs can be better addressed, and introducing a law to stop discrimination against veterans.

The Armed Forces Covenant has been developed by Labour with some local councils appointing champions to aid with support of those who serve or have served, and their families.

It would be good to see that the delivery of the covenant is made more consistent and effective across the whole country so that our forces personnel and ex-personnel get access to the services and support needed.