W2W - pandemic reminds us of the value of our Armed Forces

THE pandemic reminds us, yet again, of the value our Armed Forces.

Working with the NHS, up to 20,000 service personnel were deployed on building eight Nightingale hospitals, delivering PPE, conducting mobile testing, supporting ambulance services and providing training and increasing medical capacity.

This huge contribution was explained during a private session of our Defence Select Committee and I had the fortune to meet a mobile testing unit from the Royal Marines in Weymouth some weeks ago.

The sheer breadth and depth of our armed forces is a timely reminder to anyone thinking of cutting them further.

So I was alarmed by weekend reports that the army faced just that.

We may well need to invest more in cyber and drones, but that must not see a reduction in our conventional forces.

However, I was reassured by both the Defence Secretary and the Chief of the Defence Staff that the reports were not true.

I hope that is the case.

What is not understood by many politicians is that service personnel go on to contribute hugely to the country when they return to civilian life.

Embedded throughout society, these veterans bring with them a wealth of experience and sense of duty.

As a former soldier, I am delighted by the Chancellor’s support for veterans this week.

One hundred armed forces’ charities received nearly £6 million in support for job hunting, staying mentally and physically healthy, and for service families.

Two in South Dorset – the Veterans’ Hub in Weymouth, and Future for Heroes in Bovington - were given £64,000 between them.

Mr Sunak is also consulting into giving employers who take on a veteran a National Insurance holiday for one year.

Our Armed Forces are the best and must be treated accordingly.