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Respect for our Armed Forces

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28 June 2013
Heidi with the TA in Grove Park This weekend, Armed Forces Day is an opportunity to recognise the huge contribution of the brave men and women who have served, and continue to serve, in our Armed Forces. 

The tragic murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich last month will mean that this year, the day will have added significance for the people of South London. 

On Saturday, along with the Lewisham’s Mayor Sir Steve Bullock and Lewisham West & Penge MP Jim Dowd, I will be attending the Allerford Road Memorial Gardens in Bellingham for the annual service organised by Lewisham Council. 

Along with local reservists, cadets and religious leaders, we will show our support and appreciation for all those who make up our Armed Forces community – from those troops currently serving in Afghanistan through to the families of all our service personnel and those veterans who served in previous conflicts.
  
I have huge respect for the thousands of brave men and women who put their life on the line to protect us and to advance the interests of our country overseas. The risks they are prepared to take on our behalf should never be underestimated and the Government must do all it can to ensure that they and their families are properly rewarded and supported. This is true for their period of service but also afterwards. 

That is why in the last year, I have repeatedly pressed Government Ministers to fulfil the pension commitments they have made to army officers. Army officers not only take personal risks but also shoulder huge responsibilities with respect to the men and women in their units. 

There are currently a small group of army officers who have been made compulsorily redundant just before their immediate pension point – this means they lose out to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds. They were promised this pension payment when they took on their jobs but the Government has now let them down and is refusing to address this blatant unfairness. 

Catford resident Jayne Bullock is the sister of one of the army officers who has been affected. I have supported her campaign, Pension Justice for Troops, in Parliament and am astounded that Government Ministers have refused to meet me about this issue. 

If you want to read more about the campaign, please read Jayne’s blog at www.pensionjusticefortroops.wordpress.com and sign her online petition at www.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/35949

Over 14,000 have now signed up to this campaign. On the day when we recognise the contribution of all those connected to the armed forces, the least we can do is make sure we get justice for those who have done so much for our country.

This article was originally written for, and published by, the South London Press


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