It's great to have a debate in Westminster hall on Armed Forces day and I am sure that people across the Commons will demonstrate their support for the services, writes Alex Cunningham MP.
It’s an opportunity for MPs to raise public awareness of the contribution made to our country by those who serve and have served in the Armed Forces whilst the day gives the nation an opportunity to show their support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community: from currently serving troops to Service families and from veterans to cadets.
Our armed forces are busy working around the world - whether it is engaging in the fight against the drugs trade in the Caribbean, working to prevent and deter conflict in places such as Cyprus and the Falkland Islands, and of course continuing to fight for a safer Afghanistan, a safer Britain and a safer world.
Government, local and national, have their role to play in leading not just recognition and celebrations for our Armed Forces – but to ensure they get the support they need whilst serving and afterwards too.
Nationally we have the Armed Forces Covenant which many of us would like to see with even stronger commitments to service personnel and their families. Local organizations have a role too and I am delighted to say that Stockton Borough Council is one of the eight North East councils to have introduced an Armed Forces Community Covenant which I will talk about in my speech.
While all this positive work in Stockton and up and down the country to celebrate the forces goes on, polls in recent years have however found that over half of people, 53 per cent believe there is a gulf between the Army and the rest of society.
It seems that as the older generations who fought in the world wars or undertook national service dwindle, and as the services have reduced in size since the end of the Cold War, public understanding of our armed forces has declined.
That is why Armed Forces Day is so important- to raise people’s awareness of the impact of service life.
And while we celebrate their accomplishments, we on all sides of the political spectrum must also acknowledge the difficulties they face and work harder to improve the quality of life for the armed forces and their families, another issue to be addressed in the debate.
The government must bring together all parties, the military and service charities to discuss how we can work together in the best interests of the service community.
Armed forces look to us to support them and their families in what they do. That is our duty.