On Saturday we thank and commemorate the service of men and women in our military, by celebrating Armed Forces Day.
Though larger-scale events that we would have normally held will not be possible due to Covid-restrictions, I am pleased that a number of small-scale events will be able to go ahead this year, including the Council’s service at the Town Hall, where I will be giving a reading.
I am proud to have always been a strong supporter of our armed forces.
My grandad, Bobby, who would have been 100 this month, served with pride in the RAF during the Second World War. Nearly all of us will have loved ones whose service we look back upon with pride.
That is why it is such a privilege to be attending this year serving in my new role as Labour’s Shadow Minister for Veterans.
My driving mission in this role will be to hold the government to account where there are holes in support – and to develop a comprehensive offer from Labour, to ensure that no veteran is left behind.
As a nation we have a responsibility to all of our citizens; particularly those who put their lives at risk to keep us all safe.
One single veteran who does not get the support that they need is one too many.
I want us to build a Britain where nobody falls through the gaps and to make sure that every member of the armed forces can transition back into civilian life with secure, well paid work; safe affordable housing; exceptional healthcare and wellbeing support; and life long security for them and their families.
Over recent weeks I have been meeting with a variety of Armed Forces groups and charities, like the Royal British Legion, Combat Stress, SSAFA and many more.
But I want to reach out further. I want to hear from every veteran who wants to share their experiences with me, about their transition back to civilian life and what more we can do to support them.
That is why I was proud, this week, to launch Labour’s Veterans Survey, which will do just that.
Every response we receive will will help us to build our plan for better support and make sure that no veteran is left behind.
Recognising the service of our armed forces personnel cannot just be one day of the year. We must show that we recognise that service every day of the year by providing the support that they need.
We cannot – and should never – forget them.