This week flags were raised at a ceremony in Parliament to mark Armed Forces Week. Armed Forces Week is our chance to recognise and celebrate the service our armed forces give both at home and abroad. The Speaker of the House of Commons also signed the Armed Forces Covenant recommitting Parliament to be a Veteran friendly employer.
Also, this week the Commons debate the Armed Forces Bill, legislation needed every five years to update the Armed Forces Act of 2006. Currently the Armed Forces Covenant sets out the legal requirements of public bodies on how they deal with and support veterans in areas like healthcare, housing, and education.
The Royal British Legion and others have campaigned to extend the Covenant to make sure Ministers including MOD Ministers take the same legal responsibility for delivering the Covenant as local authorities. To include access to employment, physical and mental healthcare, and the immigration rights of those who come from abroad to serve our country. There was also debate about whether military or civilian courts deal with accusations of rape and sexual abuse, an issue better dealt with by some other Veterans Agencies, notably the US, who sometimes take duty of care more seriously.
We owe our armed forces and veterans a great debt. They serve our country and help maintain peace around the world. During the pandemic they have helped in the vaccination roll out and in hospitals. Armed Forces Week, and particularly in this the centenary year of the Royal British Legion, is a good time for the Government to match warm words with action.