Turning gratitude into tangible recognition

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Our community, shaped by centuries of military service, understands more than most the importance of recognising the work of the armed forces.

For years, an unwritten code of customs and conventions guaranteed that the nation fulfilled its responsibilities to those who served. This implicit obligation is said to date as far back as 1593, when provision was made to support soldiers.

But fast forward to 2010, and it was obvious the unspoken code of previous generations had failed.

On our own doorstep, hundreds of service personnel and their families were suffering – denied the respect, housing, healthcare and education they deserved.

As a government and as a nation, it was clear that we were no longer delivering our side of the bargain: to support those who were willing to sacrifice everything for us.

With the development of the Armed Forces Covenant, we took a huge step forward, codifying the duty that our nation owes to its service personnel.

It covers issues from housing and education to support after service and ensures that no member of the armed forces is disadvantaged as a result of their service.

But for the principles to become a reality, it needs the support of the whole nation. That is why I am delighted that Gosport Borough Council will vote tomorrow to adopt its own Armed Forces Covenant.

If the motion is passed, Gosport will be the first district council in Hampshire to take this vital step – a fitting record in an area shaped by the forces and their families.

In adopting its own covenant, the council and other local organisations will pledge to do their best for military personnel and their families.

This will mean improving access to schools, healthcare and housing, as well as measures to support veterans.

It will turn the gratitude I know we all feel for the armed forces into a tangible recognition of their sacrifice and service.