Veteran’s anger as MoD tells her not to send troops cards

NOT HAPPY Barbara Stainer
NOT HAPPY Barbara Stainer
The Queen meets members of the ship's company

PICTURE GALLERY: The Queen commissions HMS Queen Elizabeth

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A VETERAN has criticised the government after being told she can no longer send cards to troops in Afghanistan.

For the last three years Barbara Stainer, who served in the Women’s Royal Air Force in Singapore, has sent hundreds of blank greetings cards to soldiers for them to post back to their loved ones.

The 76-year-old said the cards – which allow soldiers to wish their children a happy birthday – are vital for morale.

But the Ministry of Defence has told Mrs Stainer there is no longer enough room on MoD planes to accommodate the cards.

Mrs Stainer, whose cards fitted into a shoebox, said: ‘We get letters to say how much it means to their morale.

‘I was sent a letter from a soldier who was able to send his 12-year-old daughter a birthday card.

‘It’s an uncertain world out there and this could be the last correspondence they have with their family.

‘It means so much to the men and their families back here.’

Mrs Stainer, of Bell Crescent, Waterlooville, wrote to Havant MP David Willetts in a bid to get the decision overturned.

The Tory asked Peter Luff, the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, to look into her complaint.

But in reply the minister insisted there was no room for Mrs Stainer’s cards.

The MoD only takes welfare parcels of luxury goods from the charity, Support Our Soldiers, but there is very limited space.

Mr Luff said: ‘For the MoD to offer space on its charter aircraft for shoeboxes and greeting cards, it would incur a significant additional administrative and financial burden, including for the charter of additional aircraft capacity.

‘Critically, it would also introduce a potential conflict of interest between the prioritisation of military and charitable cargo.’

Mr Willetts told The News: ‘I don’t think it’s simply a matter of finances, given the number of people we have on the ground in Afghanistan and the staff support that’s necessary to do the delivery work.

‘I am very happy to see if Support Our Soldiers can help or if there are other ways we can continue to support our troops. She is right that morale matters.’