The Minister responsible for veteran’s support in Wales has thanked past and present Armed Forces personnel for their bravery, as the nation remembers the sacrifices of all personnel since World War One.
Speaking in the Senedd earlier this week, Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn, said:
“November serves as a poignant opportunity for us all to remember, reflect and recognise all who fought in previous conflicts from across the UK and Commonwealth Countries, and the tremendous bravery and sacrifices they made to preserve our way of life.
“Whether at home or abroad, for those who have served and those who have paid the ultimate price; they will be remembered. Their sacrifices enable us all to live our lives with the freedom we have today.
“The remembrance period is also important so that future generations understand past conflicts, so we can learn the lessons from them and ensure peace for generations to come.”
The Minister also praised current personnel for the support they’ve provided over the course of the pandemic.
“We must also not forget our current Serving personnel and their families, at home and abroad, for the sacrifices they make in keeping us safe in our communities today.
“I would like to take this opportunity to pay a special tribute to the men and women of our current Armed Services who continue to work tirelessly alongside others, to help our nation overcome the unprecedented challenges associated with Covid-19.
“They have stepped up and provided the Welsh Government and the people of Wales with vital support. This has included supporting the vaccine roll-out, assisting the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust, delivering PPE and food distribution. We owe them a debt of gratitude and thank them for their support.”
2021 marks 10 years since organisations across Wales signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant.
The Covenant was put in place to help ensure past and present members of the Armed Forces community are not disadvantaged when accessing services and those who have given the most, such as the injured or bereaved, receive special consideration. The Welsh Government is also currently working with UK and other devolved Governments on the Armed Forces Bill to further embed the Covenant into law.
In Wales, support provided as part of the Armed Forces Covenant includes: a Resettlement Guide for service leavers and families; guaranteed interview schemes; funding support for veterans' mental health services and for children of Armed Forces personnel; and funding for charities to tackle loneliness and social isolation amongst ex-Service personnel.
Additionally, former personnel - whether Regular, Reservist or those who undertook National Service - are being urged by the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle, to ensure they let their GP know they have served their country to access priority treatment, including for mental health support.
“We are committed to the Armed Services Covenant, recognising the whole nation has a moral obligation to members of the Armed Forces and their families, and it establishes how they should expect to be treated.
“Health services can support veterans effectively when they are known to them. It’s vital that veterans identify themselves to healthcare professionals to access the right support when they need it.
“At this time of remembrance, and with the recent events in Afghanistan, we want to make sure military veterans living in Wales know where to go if they need help.
“Our ‘Veterans’ NHS Wales’ is the only specialised mental health service provision for veterans in the UK. It provides dedicated veterans’ therapists in each Health Board, offering approved therapies for a range of mental health problems, specific to veterans, to improve mental health and well-being.”
A number of events have taken place over the last fortnight commemorating those who have given and continue to give their lives to the Armed Forces, including a Field of Remembrance at Cardiff Castle and a Memorial Service for Ethnic Minority and Commonwealth Servicemen and Women.
Sunday’s National Service of Remembrance will be marked with an event at the war memorial in Cardiff’s Cathays Park, attended by the First Minister Mark Drakeford.