AS a former Cold War warrior, I am deeply upset by the news that a promised wide ranging review of the Honours and Awards system - as indicated by the Conservative Party when solicited for their views on the issuance of a National Defence Medal to all British service people, past and present - has been downgraded to a statement to the effect that a National Defence Medal is unlikely to be on the agenda because giving medals for ‘merely serving’ is not seen as having any merit.
Those words are an insult to all who have proudly worn the uniforms of the British Armed Forces.
They are demeaning and dismissive and, given the fact that the UK is now almost alone in not having such a medal, show that as far as the administrations of the UK are concerned, the British soldier, sailor, airman or marine is regarded as being of little or no account.
Once they are ‘used up’, service people are an embarrassment and seen as being of no further value.
The indifferent attitudes adopted and expressed within Whitehall and Westminster reflect a policy of neglect of the hundreds of thousands who have flocked to the colours and stood to for Queen and Country, going where sent and doing all that was asked of them. Signs of that neglect have been there for all to see, lack of equipment and lack of facilities. Failure to provide for the needs of those with ongoing injuries both of the flesh and the mind.
Even when the committee for a National Defence Medal comes up with a solution to the cost of such an idea that would see not only a NDM made fully viable but also fund special needs for wounded and traumatised veterans, it is not even allowed to be heard.
The door has been slammed in the faces of those who seek nothing more than the right to be recognised and to help their own in the process. A win-win situation has been disdainfully laid on the altar of political short-sightedness. It should not be allowed to perish there, because it is the best solution to the problems that veterans of all eras face, it is practical, workable and morale boosting. It will provide for those who need the most help and it will allow many who have for so long been ignored to be acknowledged for what they have contributed.
The Lib/Dems are still on side for the establishment of a NDM and so are many MPs from all Parties.
The problems stem from the intransigence of those that are unable to see outside of the box .
This mind set prevails at the Whitehall bastion of the MoD and it needs to be weeded out.
There is a solution and certainly the one that the NDM Campaign Committee has in mind will solve a lot of problems. It needs to be implemented for the good of all.
Once an NDM is set up in conjunction with a true covenant between Parliament and Armed Forces, with provisions for proper duty of care for those who become victims of their chosen vocation in place, service people can set about their tasks without worrying about support should they become casualties.