Monday, 12 November 2007

Wars Never End

Regardless of my overt support for Nick Clegg, as the brother of a serving soldier I was absolutely delighted to see that should he be elected as our leader he will be taking the issue of the treatment of our servicemen and women seriously through the establishment of a Military Convenant Commission.

Remembrance Sunday should not be merely to remember the dead but also to remember the mained and injured (both physically and mentally) who have returned from Britain's military engagements over the years. Nick has rightly identified that our treatment of armed forces personnel, present and past, is pretty shoddy (and that includes ex-Gurkhas as well). I can only condemn the Government for not allowing injured personnel from Iraq and Afghanistan to parade past the Cenotaph yesterday. Shades of Vietnam there.

The reality facing our Armed Forces today include accommodation that is often not fit for purpose, appropriate and adequate kit scarce (the Americans call our troops "Lendmies" rather than "Limies" these days) and welfare and medical care often fails to come up to the mark.

Tonight's Channel 4 documentary "Forgotten Heroes: The Not Dead" scratches the surface of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is an absolutely shocking statistic that more Falklands veterans have taken their own lives than were killed in the conflict.

We all need a shake to face up to our responsibilities to those who, in effect implement the "muscle" part of our foreign policy. The conflicts of Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan will continue to claim their victims until such time as we do our bit for those who did their bit.

Our Military Covenant Commission, I hope, will begin to shake the consensus of convenient ignorance regarding the consequences of military conflict for our service personnel that has pervaded our politics for far too many years.

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