Local Member of the Welsh Parliament, Laura Anne Jones MS, has paid tribute to those who are serving, and who have served, in the Armed Forces.
Speaking in the Welsh Parliament on Armistice Day, Laura Anne Jones, who is also Monmouthshire County Council's armed forces champion and a granddaughter of a Major, stressed the debt we owe to Service Personnel past and present, praised their work in tackling the coronavirus pandemic and outlined Welsh Conservative policy to provide more help to Veterans.
Laura Anne Jones said:
“I know the importance of recognising the works, needs and commitment of our armed forces. It is appropriate, therefore, that today, on Armistice Day, we recognise the enormous debt we owe to those serving, who have served in our armed forces. They serve our country with dedication, at the risk of their own lives, and we go it to them to provide the care and support they so richly deserve.”
“Remembrance this year, unfortunately, has had to be very different. No march pass, no big parades, no festivals. The very fact that remembrance this year is different demonstrates why it's more important. British military personnel have and are continuing to play a key role in this country's response to the pandemic.”
“During the peak of the military's response, 20,000 troops were at the ready as part of a COVID support force, with more than 4,000 deployed at a time. In Wales, military personnel helped to build the field hospital at the Principality Stadium. Armed forces personnel were mobilised to help the Welsh ambulance service, as already outlined, and military operations in Brecon worked alongside the Welsh Government to provide planning support.”
“We have a duty to ensure our armed forces, past, present and future are not forgotten and are appreciated. I believe Wales needs an armed forces commissioner, accountable to this Parliament, to champion the needs of our service personnel and to ensure we uphold the armed forces covenant. There needs to be more work done to ensure their needs are thought about and embedded in all policy areas, and money needs to follow to the councils in order for them to meet those requirements. Leaving the military, often after a long period of service, presents former service personnel with many challenges. It often means their having to relocate, move home, find new employment and undergo a change of lifestyle. Veterans can often struggle to obtain information about the services available to them when returning to civilian life. The armed forces covenant employer recognition scheme has gone a long way to embed and highlight their needs when delivering services on a county council level, and I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Monmouthshire County Council”
“Monmouthshire County Council for recently receiving their gold award, and other councils and employers across my area of South Wales East who have done a lot of hard work in changing minds and attitudes in relation to veterans and their needs”
“We would introduce an armed forces card, which would be available to veterans and existing services personnel. This would offer a wide range of benefits including free bus travel, and free entry to swimming pools and Cadw heritage sites. I welcome that military veterans of every generation will soon be able to benefit from cut-price rail travel thanks to a UK Government initiative. The veterans' railcard is aimed at supporting veterans after their service, providing up to a third off off-peak fares for adults, companions and children. At this point, I wish to just pay tribute to all the hard work of Johnny Mercer MP, the Minister for Defence People and Veterans, whose task it is to pull together all functions of the Government to ensure veterans are looked after in the manner they deserve. His hard work and determination, often drawing on his experiences, that he puts into his work has been exemplary. He started the 'A Great Place to Work for Veterans' initiative, helping veterans to join the civil service, and it's great to see the Welsh Government backing this.”
“Wales has a long, proud relationship with the armed forces. Our military makes huge sacrifices to keep this country safe. It's only right we continue to show how much we value their efforts once they leave the armed forces. There's been a lot done, but there's a lot more we can do and should do. “.