Lisa Nandy MP: Armed Forces Day is a chance to thank the troops

Wigan and Leigh Armed Forces Day this Saturday gives us an important chance to show our support and gratitude for the service and commitment of our armed forces personnel, veterans and their families.
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Currently, there are 135,000 full-time trained troops in the UK armed forces along with 30,000 in the reserves.

Since 2015 the North West has recruited around 11,900 armed forces personnel, the third highest number of any other region in the UK.

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There are also 2.5 million armed forces veterans across the country and at least 10,000 in Wigan borough alone.

Wigan MP Lisa NandyWigan MP Lisa Nandy
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy

The armed forces community is such an important part of our area. Since Armed Forces Day last year, UK forces have continued to play a leading role in supporting Ukraine and our NATO partners in the region in the face of Russian aggression. This is in addition to the everyday work our forces do, from peacekeeping and providing humanitarian aid to enforcing anti-terrorism measures and helping to combat the international drug trade.

Back home we must also never forget the leading role armed forces personnel played throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Whether manning testing stations, giving up weekends and leave to bolster the NHS, or rolling out much needed vaccines, our armed forces put themselves at great personal risk on the frontline in the fight against Covid.

Despite the essential role they continue to play, the Defence Secretary has himself admitted the Government has “hollowed out and underfunded” our armed forces.

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Since 2010, the Government has cut the full-time strength of our forces by 45,000. One in five ships have been removed from the Royal Navy’s fleet and over 200 aircraft have been taken out of RAF service in in the last five years alone.

Ministers must halt these cuts and ensure our armed forces have the resources they need to fulfil their obligations both at home and abroad.

The last 13 years of Conservative rule have seriously damaged the nation’s moral contract with those who serve in our forces. Personnel living in damp and mouldy housing, satisfaction with service life falling to around 40% and forces retention rates dropping.

We must ensure our armed forces people have good homes to live in and the Armed Forces Covenant must be fully incorporated into law so that those who serve or have served, and their families are treated fairly.

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Labour in Government will also bring into law a new Armed Forces Commissioner to represent the military and their loved ones and help improve service life.

We also need to strengthen support for veterans. We must boost specialist support for veterans and bring down waiting times for veterans’ mental health services so that they get the help they need and deserve without delay.

This weekend there will be events across the borough to mark Armed Forces Day, including the celebrations and events in Wigan town centre on Saturday. This will be an ideal opportunity for us all to show our thanks to those who are serving and have served for the enormous contribution they make to our country.