On Monday, I launched Labour’s Veterans Survey across Denton and Reddish. This survey is an opportunity for me to hear first-hand from veterans about what they are going through, and what more can be done to support them.
It’s important to say that despite the survey being a Labour initiative, supporting our veterans goes above and beyond party politics. Our nation owes an enormous gratitude to serving and ex-serving personnel, and it is essential that we work across party lines to ensure that veterans have access to high-quality healthcare, employment opportunities, affordable and safe housing, and mental health support. This survey, therefore, represents an opportunity for me to listen to veterans, and gain an understanding of what they need from me both on a local and national level.
Here in Tameside, we have a exceptionally proud history of standing by our veterans. Tameside was the first Council in greater Manchester to adopt the Armed Forces Covenant, and I’ve written extensively about the exceptional work being done by charities like Tameside Armed Services Community (TASC). TASC was set up to identify the estimated 7500 veterans in Tameside and acts as a partner to the Council in delivering the Armed Forces Covenant.
Most recently, TASC and the Council helped organise the Denton Cenotaph Centenary Event and produced several history boards to tell the stories of the some of the 379 men from Denton and Haughton who lost their lives in the Great War. These boards served as a poignant reminder of those who sacrificed their lives over 100 years ago, but also the ongoing sacrifices service personnel and veterans are making every day to defend this country.
Charities’ like TASC make me proud to represent Tameside, and I want to continue to champion their work as well as drive for change in Parliament. We need to see the Armed Forces Covenant enshrined properly into law, so that the Government and businesses have an obligation to treat veterans fairly, and parliamentarians must listen and act on the calls of veterans who have been ignored for far too long.
That’s why I would encourage any veteran who is interested in taking part in the survey to visit www.labour.org.uk/veterans. It would be fantastic to hear from as many different people as possible, so that we can develop a detailed and comprehensive plan that addresses the issues veterans face on a day-to-day basis. Only by doing so can we build a future where those who have sacrificed so much for this country are given the dignity, respect and support that they deserve.