Why we must never forget
Chief Executive of SSAFA. Before joining SSAFA, David served in the RAF from 1979 to 2012. As Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff, he provided strategic oversight of world-wide welfare support to serving families. Here he explains why welcoming the last Afghanistan troops home for Christmas must not mark the end of our support.
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For many Forces families, this Christmas will be extra special. Last month saw the end of British combat operations in Afghanistan. 140,000 UK troops have served there, and the final few are currently on their way home to be reunited with friends and family for the festive season. It’s a time for celebration, but also a time to remember those who lost their lives, and those who will continue to need support, in many forms, for many years, as a result of their service in that conflict.
At SSAFA we’re already responding to those needs, through a vast range of services designed to support the injured and their families, those who are suffering with loneliness or isolation, and those who have been bereaved. But we know from past experience that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Issues relating to active service can often lie dormant for many years, sometimes because of people’s resilience, pride, or simply not knowing where to turn for help.
Over 7,000 of those that we are helping today last saw active service during conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Bosnia and Iraq. Many last served over a decade ago, yet they still need and deserve our help. So while we welcome home the final few troops, I would urge everyone to remember the work that still remains to be done supporting serving personnel, veterans and their families here in the UK.
Show your support by posting your own #MySalute to our heroes, or text ‘HERO29 £3’ to 70070 to help continue SSAFA’s vital work with the entire military community.