“Armed Forces Day will provide us all with an opportunity to mark and express our thanks and gratitude” – Lord Richard Rosser

2 days to go

Saturday 30th June 2012


By Lord Richard Rosser, member of Labour’s Shadow Defence team in the House of Lords

This Saturday is the seventh annual celebration of Armed Forces Day, which until 2009 (four years after its introduction by the previous Labour government) had been known as Veteran’s Day.

The celebration will provide us all with an opportunity to mark and express our thanks and gratitude for the commitment and courage of members of the armed forces and veterans alike. They have protected and continues to protect our country, whether through service at home or abroad.

We remember in particular those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and given their lives. At the present time, we think especially of those who have been killed in Afghanistan, and their families and close friends. We also need to remember those who have been seriously injured on active service. The euphemism used is that they have suffered “life-changing injuries”. Put bluntly, that means they will never be able to do many of the activities that are a part of everyday living – activities that the rest of us take for granted.

If we want an example of what “life changing injuries” mean, we had it yesterday from Ben Parkinson – a soldier who lost his legs and suffered brain and back injuries when his Land Rover was blown up in Afghanistan. Ben was on the TV news yesterday bravely walking with the Olympic torch for 300 metres through his home town of Doncaster. It took him 25 minutes to do this, but he made it displaying the determination he had shown serving his country.

Ben was applauded and cheered on by a great many well wishers. There is still evidence however, that our armed forces at times face discrimination. Whilst public support for our armed forces is high, a recent report has revealed one in five have experienced strangers shouting abuse at them while wearing their uniform in public in the UK in the last five years. 18% meanwhile, have been refused service in hotels, pubs or elsewhere.

Members of our armed forces have also said that their inevitable regular changes of address can count against them in credit checks, and more than a quarter said they had been refused a mortgage, loan or credit card in the last five years. A leading recruitment agency specialising in service leavers and veterans has also reported discrimination against veterans.

Labour has called for urgent cross party talks to end discrimination against our Armed Forces, and if necessary the introduction of new legal rights. And the principles of the Military Covenant, which were enshrined in the Armed Forces Act last year, must also be upheld.

My colleague Denis Tunnicliffe pressed Ministers this week for their assessment of the levels of discrimination against serving and former members of our Armed Forces. In addition, I have a question today (Thursday) on the level of financial or other support they are providing for Saturday’s celebration. Together, with colleagues across the Labour Party, we will ensure that our active service personnel and veterans are not forgotten, and that the contribution they have made to the security of our country, sometimes at appalling personal cost, continues to be recognised.


One thought on ““Armed Forces Day will provide us all with an opportunity to mark and express our thanks and gratitude” – Lord Richard Rosser

  1. I joined the Royal Air Force on June 24th 1959, I was not old enough to vote but old enough to give my life if need be. My father had served in the Artillery from 1915 – 1919 at the age of 19years and in the Home Guard 1940-1945 he died at the age of 62 a broken man, My eldest Brother lost his life on the night of 1-2 March 1943 (3 days before my 3rd birthday) so i never got to know him, He was a Navigator on 44 squadron and he and his crew of seven young men died a particularly dreadful death over Berlin.
    You cannot comprehend what happened to them and the other 55,730 who never returned until you visit the graves, because you do not always know who is in which grave you only know all seven are there together.
    Succesive governments to their everlasting shame refused to acknowledge the losses and swept Bomber Command under the carpet and even now refuse to help fund it for the future.
    I found out all about my brother and the crew when I was a Civil Servant so at least my sister and I have some comfort in knowing and we have been able to pass on the facts to others.
    We met a couple today June 28th at the unvieling of the memorial who lost a relative in January 43 he was on the same squadron as my bvrother and they must have known each other.
    My service ended in 1968 after 9 years and 6 months invalieded out with £200.
    I am the Chairman of Barkingside Royal British Legion and will be attending Armed Forces Day in Ilford on Saturday. on Sunday we will be holding a Service at The Holy Trinity Barkingside at which two of my comrades from Bomber Command will be in attendance both member of AJEX ( now those guys were taking a risk if they had been shot down) We must remember the overseas crews were all volunteers and came from every commonwealth country plus european countries which were under the Nazi yoke
    3528006 SAC Coombes JP

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