Kirsten Oswald MP, the Scottish National Party spokesperson on Armed Forces and Veterans, has secured a debate at Westminster on the issue of a National Defence Medal.
There has been a campaign to have service personnel recognised by the UK government. Veteran’s groups and campaigners have highlighted that significant numbers of veterans, including many who have undertaken dangerous and challenging deployments, are not currently awarded a medal because their service was not undertaken in conflict.
Kirsten Oswald is pressing the UK Government to acknowledge that a medal should be awarded to veterans as a mark of gratitude and respect. Following a review conducted by the last UK government, it was concluded that this was ‘too expensive’ by the Tories – whose austerity and cuts programmes continue to do so much damage to families and communities.
Kirsten Oswald raised the matter again recently with the Leader of the House, Chris Grayling, only to have it once again dismissed – but she has now been granted a debate in Westminster Hall – with cross party support – and will raise the issue once again.
Kirsten Oswald MP commented:
“I am delighted to have secured a debate in Westminster Hall on this issue. Millions of veterans of the armed forces who served but did not necessarily fight in battles – should receive a National Defence Medal.
“In other countries – like the United States and Australia – it is practice to recognise service after three of four years. But in the UK only after 15 years do service personnel get long service and good conduct medals. This leaves many who have diligently undertaken often dangerous roles with no tangible recognition of their service.
“When I raised this recently in the House of Commons I was disappointed in the minister’s response. It was a little too dismissive and failed to understand that the issues of a National Defence Medal is not something competitive or demeaning to others – and it should certainly not be cost driven. It is about recognising service.
“We should be constantly aware of just how much our service personnel sacrifice to keep us safe – and maintain our security.
Owen Thompson, MP for Midlothian, said:
“Having had many constituents contact me about this I’m delighted to see my SNP colleague secure this debate.
“The Tories need to rethink this slightly cavalier approach. Meeting the duty of care that we owe our service personnel must always be our top priority – and I hope the debate goes some way to addressing that.’’
[photo from kirstenoswald.scot]