Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 6th November 2019

Remembrance Sunday takes place this weekend, the one day a year when we are all expected to spend a little time remembering conflict and the consequences it has for the lives of all those who come into contact with it, whether they’re military or civilians, those on the front-line or those who care for them back home.

For many, Remembrance Sunday conjures images of poppies, soldiers standing to attention and the Cenotaph, and it certainly involves all those things. Yet, I worry all-too-often we acknowledge the formal process of ‘Remembrance’, buying a poppy and standing quietly for two minutes, and learn nothing from it.

Yes, we should remember the dead and the high price wars forced them to pay, but we should remember the living also. Those families for whom the loss of a loved one is not only a source of ongoing pain, but will drive them into financial deprivation. Those physically injured through conflicts, whose bodies will forever carry the wounds and their limitations. Those whose wounds aren’t physical, yet no less painful or debilitating.

Do we remember them too? Do we remember them when the silence is over, when the poppies come off and the day is done? Perhaps some do, I suspect most do not; we certainly don’t like to think about how our country is failing them.

13,000 veterans care currently homeless according to the estimate of one leading military charity, that’s despite councils like Crawley giving housing applications from veterans added weight. Mental health support too is severely lacking, with 6% of current and former servicemen and women believed to be suffering from PTSD alone. While, cuts in incapacity benefits and support for the last decade have hit veterans and civilians with disabilities alike.

For those who have been put in harms way on our behalf we owe a greater debt than two minutes silence once a year. We owe it to them to look at the impact of what service did to them and to put it right, starting with reversing the damage cuts have made to our public services and welfare in recent years

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