JOHNNY TELLS IT LIKE IT IS

Invictus Games opening ceremony

Some Westminster insiders want me to shut up about veterans’ care. Here’s why I won’t

In the wake of the Invictus Games, Johnny Mercer MP stands up for injured veterans in his article for The Telegraph saying: ‘We know we owe you for the sacrifices you made in defence of the freedoms that we enjoy. We have a duty to you. Come forward; don’t suffer in silence. You gave the best years of your life in Service to this great Nation, in the proud traditions of your forebears.’

I could not agree more, but there’s a very good reason why veterans need a champion like Johnny and why other government ministers are urging him to drop the issue:

“Just like everyone else in the battlegroup, I hoped for the best and planned for the worst. In view of the very real and obvious dangers inherent in dismounted close combat I took out life insurance with the MoD’s approved provider. I wasn’t entirely certain if I was insuring myself against the risks of death or injury in the service of my country, or against the inadequacies of the long‑term care I would receive from the State in this second eventuality.

After more than ten years of conflict and a willingness by successive British governments to commit soldiers to combat, it is still a shameful reality that soldiers wounded in the service of their country are not adequately cared for by the State. They must rely instead on the generosity of the public through charities such as Help for Heroes to provide not only resources for their immediate rehabilitation as they recover from their injuries, but also for the long‑term care that many will need throughout the rest of their lives.

It was most unedifying to learn of the personal greed of our political masters in the Parliamentary expenses scandal that engulfed British politics in 2009–10. At this time, according to official statistics released by the MoD, eight British soldiers a month were dying in Afghanistan. A further 13 were very seriously wounded, sustaining injuries that would change the course of the rest of their lives. It is notable that our political leaders at almost every level of governance will show public support for the men and women of the Armed Services – yet still drag their heels when it comes to ensuring that those who make the ultimate sacrifice receive adequate financial support from a grateful country.”

Johnny concludes: ‘Should we have done more as a Government in this sector [veterans’ care] to facilitate it and “guarantee it” over the years? Undoubtedly yes. Are we getting better? Is this PM committed to it? Yes.’

I hope you’re right Johnny but don’t stop raising the issue at PMQs.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is available as an Amazon Kindle e-book

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

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