After many conversations with veterans’ groups, the DWP, Bury Council and the Veterans Minister, Leo Doherty MP, I’ve been working with colleagues behind the scenes to develop a hub for veterans and the wider armed forces community across Bury. It is hoped that the hub will bring together support for mental health, housing, employment, and a myriad of other services to assist Bury’s Armed Forces community.
Whilst it has been hugely rewarding to speak to those currently serving our country and those veterans, it has highlighted the fact that unless you have served in the armed forces most people’s understanding of the military is limited.
On the back of this, earlier this year I applied to be part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme, which was set up to help Parliamentarians gain a better understanding not only of the military but the life and experiences of those serving.
Last week I made my first visit to the Defence Academy at Shrivenham where we met senior personnel from all branches of the military as well as the Ministry for Defence and Strategic Command to get a greater understanding of the current and future threats to the nation.
Whether it be cyber-attacks from an increasingly destabilising China, Iran and Russia, an increase in threats in the Indo-Pacific region focusing on aggression towards allies such as Taiwan or terrorism both at home and abroad. The nature of defence is clearly changing but it’s reassuring that our defence organisations are staying ahead of this change.
In the future weeks and months, the Army section of the scheme will be joining the Army Training Regiment, the Army Foundation College as well as Army Headquarters and The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst whilst also joining the service around the world to see the key work that they are undertaking in defence of the United Kingdom.
The scheme isn’t going to make experts out of the 50 MPs and Peers on the scheme but will certainly make us better informed and assist us with our Parliamentary and local work with our Armed Forces.
I look forward to continuing my work over the next few months with our newly formed Bury Armed Forces Committee in pursuit of our ambition for a Bury Armed Forces Hub.