Armed Forces Day

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TODAY is the nation’s fourth Armed Forces Day – an annual opportunity to show support for the men and women who make up the armed forces community – serving troops, their families, veterans and cadets.

In some ways today is even more important than last year, when Edinburgh hosted the UK event. This led to a weekend of highlights, topped off with a spectacular fly-past by the Red Arrows.

When our army, navy and air force are out of the headlines, it is easy to forget the ongoing sacrifice that people make.

That is why supporting today’s event is so important.

Veterans, cadets and serving soldiers will march through the city’s streets from King’s Stables Road to Princes Street Gardens. The day will include a fly-past by a Typhoon squadron, which will then make its way to events in Glasgow and Dundee.

As a country we have a duty of care towards the men and women who put their lives on the line. Too many dedicated men and women still find themselves on the scrapheap after returning to civilian life.

For those still serving, a dramatic restructuring of the military is ongoing which will reduce the manpower and resource available. Today is a good time to reflect on whether we are getting that right.

The Armed Forces Covenant published last year by the Westminster government – establishing how members of the armed forces and their families should expect to be treated – was an important step.

The Scottish Government, which will today fly the Armed Forces Day flag outside St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh, has also taken a lead in supporting our troops by introducing concessionary bus travel for injured veterans, NHS priority for service-related health issues, a Veterans’ Fund and better access to housing.

But beside the changes at a government level, each and every one of us has a moral obligation to remember our servicemen and women. So, today, pause to remember their skills, dedication and sacrifice.