Isherwood: Time to reflect on the way we treat our veterans

Welsh Conservatives will this week use a Senedd debate to highlight the need to do more for Welsh veterans and members of the armed forces community.

The party are calling for Wales’ 385,000 members of the current, and former, service community to be treated with “fairness and respect”. They say politicians across Wales need to “raise their game”, and are calling for a reflection on the way society treats its veterans.

Wednesday’s debate calls for the introduction of an Armed Forces and Veterans Commissioner, accountable to the National Assembly for Wales. The individual, and their office, would be responsible for championing the needs of the armed forces community, and ensuring devolved levers are utilised to offer necessary support.

The Welsh Conservative spokesman for Social Justice – Mark Isherwood – will also call on the Welsh Government to introduce a Veterans’ Needs Assessment as the basis for delivering services. Data collection in Wales is too patchy, and there is a clear need for a joined-up approach to establish a more accurate assessment of how many veterans there are in Wales, and what their needs are. Such an approach would enable public services to be better shaped to meet the community’s needs.

On this day (9th November 1916), 100 years ago, the third and final phase of the Battle of the Somme was drawing to a close. By 1918, 218,000 Welshmen had served in World War I – of which approximately 40,000 died.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Social Justice spokesman, Mark Isherwood AM, said:

“It’s time for us to reflect as a society on the way we treat armed forces veterans.

“It’s not enough just to rely on organisations like the Royal British Legion to raise money and campaign for the 385,000 members of the current and former service community currently living in Wales.

“As politicians we have to raise our game, and make sure that each and every level of government is playing its part.

“We are one hundred years on from the Battle of the Somme and the commemorations this year have been a poignant reminder of the need to protect these heroes, and to ensure that those who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated with fairness and respect.”

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, said:

“All Welsh public bodies have signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant, but it’s clear that we have a long way to go to redress the disadvantages faced by this section of the community.

“In Scotland, a Veterans Commissioner champions the needs of the armed forces community .

“We want to go one step further here in Wales, and create an Armed Forces Commissioner for Wales, dedicated both to veterans and the wider armed forces community.”

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in the rye by jenny downing 

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