In the week of Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day, North Wales MS Mark Isherwood has called for people to remember what “We will remember them” really means.
Taking part in today’s ‘Remembrance’ Debate in the Senedd as Shadow Minister for Social Justice, Mr Isherwood emphasised the reason for the Remembrance period and the continuing need for all those who are serving, or have served in our Armed Forces, to be supported.
“The Remembrance period is an opportunity for us to: Pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of individuals from across Wales who now serve or have served in our armed forces; Acknowledge the work of organisations, individuals and volunteers who support our Armed Forces community and Veterans across Wales; help future generations to understand past conflicts, where the past informs the future; Remember all those who have lost their lives in wars and conflicts, including civilian casualties; and support the need for peaceful resolutions to all conflicts.
“Remembrance this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Armistice which ended the fighting in the Korean War, the “Forgotten War”, and honours the contribution of the generation in uniform who undertook National Service, 60 years after the last serviceman was demobbed.
“My father was a National Service Soldier a decade prior to that, serving in Cyprus and Egypt.
“During the Korean War, units of the Welch Regiment were sent to Korea, accompanied by a company of Royal Welch Fusiliers and a platoon from the South Wales Borderers. 32 Members of the Welch Regiment were killed in the conflict.
“Remembrance 2023 also marks the 75th anniversary of the arrival of settlers from the Caribbean on the Empire Windrush, many of whom were Veterans of the Second World War.”
Mr Isherwood again referred to the ‘Credit their Service’ Campaign launched by the Royal British Legion, calling for an end to the treatment of military compensation as income across welfare benefit means tests. In July, he emphasised the need for action by the Welsh Government and Welsh Local Authorities to ensure that this happens.
“A hundred and fifty thousand members of the Armed Forces Community receive military compensation awarded to support the ongoing costs of an illness or injury acquired in Service.
“Means testing results in some of the poorest members of the Armed Forces Community being denied thousands of pounds of support, while civil compensation, such as for personal injury or medical negligence, is exempt from this. Although a UK wide issue, this includes areas where the Welsh Government leads, and we therefore look to them to respond.”
He also referred to the Armed Forces Covenant Duty and the fact that the Statutory Guidance on it was issued last November, produced by the UK Government in consultation with the Devolved Governments, placing a legal Duty on Specified Authorities to have due regard to the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant when exercising certain statutory functions in the devolved fields of healthcare, education and housing; noted that the UK Government launched a £33 Million funding package in March to support Veterans over the next three years, and that they launched Op FORTITUDE for homeless Veterans in July, a first-of-its-kind hotline and part of a two-year £8.55 million programme to fulfil the UK Government’s pledge to end veteran rough sleeping; and highlighted the need for Veterans’ “Change Step” Peer Mentors in all Health Boards in Wales.
“When we say “We will remember them”, we must remember what this really means.”