Saturday, 25 June 2011

UK Armed Forces Week

After decades of obscurity and no public recognition for the work they do, the members of the Armed Forces are finally being given the recognition they deserve.  To an extent.  This is the UK, after all and not the United States.  Our servicemen and women are still not given the level of support given to those in America, but it is a lot better than it used to be.

It's been a hard struggle to get this far.  Many have called upon the government and the people to acknowledge the service and sacrifice of the members of the Armed Forces and many have failed to make any significant impact.  It took death and dismemberment in order to get the ball rolling.  Numerous conflicts and operations have taken their toll and for that sacrifice a level of recognition has been accepted.  The struggle for greater acceptance continues especially for the support for British Veterans.  For example, the struggle for an identification card for veterans has been ongoing for years with little or no progress.  Government promises have fallen by the wayside and, because the public don't know any better, there has been little or no outcry.

There are members of the public that still refuse to acknowledge the work that the Armed Forces do for the country as a whole.  I remember reading an article written by a member of public who stated that he saw no reason to support the Army, Navy or Airforce as they had done nothing for him.  They were all off fighting a war in a foreign country instead of protecting our country.  This is an example of the level of ignorance of the British public and it's a complete contrast to our cousins across the water.

Things are changing, though.  The coming week is dedicated to those who are serving or who have served.  It aims to increase public awareness so that ignorant comments, as the one I mentioned above, become a thing of the past.  Well, that's the hope and although I support it wholeheartedly, I think they are hoping for too much.  There are still too many people who wouldn't admit that the Armed Forces are worth recognition, even if their lives depended on it.  Ignorance is bliss and while people still think that we are fighting a pointless war in a pointless country, that ignorance will grow.

On a more positive note, it is heartwarming to see members of the younger generation acknowledging the service and sacrifice of members of the Armed Forces.  Also, it shouldn't be understated, the sacrifice the families of these servicemen and women who stay at home.  Their lot is as difficult as the service personnel, not knowing how a loved one is faring and having to maintain the family unit without them for months at a time.  There are organisations that can help and each and every one of them deserve our support.

I hope that next week promotes a greater understanding as well as support for the Armed Forces.  I hope that educating the public engenders greater support for them as well as the organisations that help them and their families.  I also hope that the need for greater support to veterans is highlighted.  With the increased number of younger men and women who have left the services as a result of horrific injuries, the need for greater support has never been so prevalent.

Finally, on a personal note, I hope that those injured service personnel who have sustained an injury and are fighting with the British insurance system have greater support.  The fact that insurance companies can latch onto the smallest detail or misprint to deny an injured soldier compensation is akin to fraud and I hope each and every one of them are punished accordingly.  It's not enough that they have gone through enough trauma without having to fight the companies that promised them financial protection should the worst happen and then renege on their promises.

All in all, Armed Forces week can only be good for the Armed Forces.  Education promotes understanding.  Understanding the sacrifices they have agreed to in order to protect our society and it's values is just as important as doing the job itself.

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