Yesterday David Cameron and Dr Liam Fox launched the Conservative Party’s Armed Forces Manifesto. As you can imagine I’m very pleased to see political commitment to support our troops.
The Armed Forces Manifesto outlines how we will repair the Military Covenant and rebuild the bonds between the Forces and the people. We will:
- Give the Armed Forces clear leadership – we’ll hold a Strategic Defence and Security Review to make sure resources match commitments. In the meantime, we’ll protect the defence budget for 2010/11.
- Equip our Armed Forces properly – we’ll reform procurement so our Forces get the equipment they need when they need it, at a reasonable cost to the taxpayer.
- Support our servicemen and women – we’ll double the operational allowance, improve rest and recuperation leave and establish a tri-Service Military Covenant.
- Support service families and children – we’ll give Forces children extra support in school through the pupil premium, and provide college and university bursaries for the children of Forces personnel who have been killed.
- Support our veterans – with a new mental health screening process and a new ‘Troops for Teachers’ programme to get ex-service personnel into teaching.
“The first duty of government is the defence of the realm, and our most vital asset in that is our people”, said Shadow Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox.
“I know from my experience as a Civilian Army Medical Officer that the surest way to have unhappy service personnel is to have unhappy service families. This is why a Conservative government will repair the Military Covenant as a matter of urgency.”
Liam Fox reaffirmed that mental health is will be his welfare priority if he becomes Defence Secretary, and said he was “delighted” to announce the mental health screening service for all service leavers (including reservists) and a PTSD treatment programme within the NHS.
The manifesto has been “warmly welcomed” by the Chief Executive of Combat Stress, and the Chairman of the Combat Stress fundraising appeal has said it has “the potential to really help the UK meet the anticipated future demand for high quality mental health services for our Veterans”.