This was brought home to me when I watched the recent Channel 4 programme "Forgotten Heroes: The Not Dead". The programme was about three veterans traumatised by horrific events witnessed in different wars: in Malaya, Bosnia and Iraq. The three soldiers experienced similar problems in re-adjusting to life back home - especially lack of adequate care for dealing with post traumatic stress disorder.
- publicly and enthusiastically recognising the work the troops have done by holding high-profile welcome home parades and civic receptions;
- by providing improved health care and fair compensation payments to troops and veterans so that they do not seem to be being simply discarded and also so that the public can see that they are being treated as important;
- by letting the troops know that they are valued by ensuring that their accommodation is up to standard, that their equipment is the best available and that their pay is commensurate with similar professions, e.g. the Police;
- by raising public awareness and understanding by improving the information available, by bringing soldiers into schools to talk to the kids and by communicating in an open and honest way.
Next spring the MoD is to publish a White Paper on service personnel that will take stock of policies affecting the Armed Forces and set out plans to improve conditions. A parallel study will also be conducted into encouraging greater public engagement in supporting the Armed Forces.
If the British Government does not treat the Armed Forces with honour, appreciation and respect, how can the British public be expected to?