Morale crisis looms as public apathy

WANING support of Britain’s military from the public has prompted fears a morale crisis could be on the horizon.

Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 6:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th June 2019, 4:00 pm
Soldiers from Princess of Wales Royal Regiment on overseas deployment with the UN in Cyprus. Photo: MoD

New research has claimed more than a third of Brits – 36 per cent – no longer actively support the nation’s armed forces.

While almost half of all 16 to 34-year-old – 48 per cent – said they had no interest in backing the military.

Now the head of one of the UK’s leading armed forces, SSAFA – which compiled the research – has appealed for a change of heart from the public.

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Members of the Royal Navy Small Ships and Diving unit practice on the parade ground at HMS Collingwood, as they prepared for the Royal wedding where they provided ceremonial support in 2018. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

The plea comes just days before the nation marks Armed Forces Day on Saturday, a celebration honouring the sacrifices of military personnel.

Sir Andrew Gregory, chief executive of SSAFA, said: ‘The men and women in our armed forces, along with their families, make sacrifices on a daily basis to protect our way of life and the freedoms we cherish, something that should never be forgotten.

‘Armed Forces Day is an opportunity for the nation to remember that, even when they are not headline news, our armed forces are working tirelessly on our behalf.’

SSAFA’s research claimed ‘outdated misconceptions’ of modern-day military life were fuelling the current apathy towards the armed forces.

Results showed half of the public was unaware of where Britain’s military was based in the world, with 16 per cent mistakenly believing the majority to still be in Afghanistan.

Surgeon Lieutenant Commander, Elizabeth James, of Lee-on-the-Solent, has been a doctor for more than a decade in the Royal Navy and said the situation was frustrating.

She said: ‘I’ve found myself facing questions about why we need doctors in the military when we aren’t in active conflict – but people forget that there are over 190,000 people in the military at any given time, as well as their families.

‘The navy and other forces are permanently deploying all over the world, both on land in support of UN missions and at sea.

‘It’s wonderful to be celebrated during Armed Forces Week, but to be understood and appreciated all year round would mean even more.

‘That way, we would feel confident that we have the support of the public whilst we work to protect our country.’