Happy Armed Forces Day! Yes, a day when we can be happy about our Armed Forces. Other days in the calendar, such as Remembrance, set a much different tone, but today is meant to be a day of celebration. That said, for some, it will be a moment of quiet reflection, whilst a carnival atmosphere descends on the national focus for Armed Forces Day, Salisbury; a town that has shown such courage and resilience in recent times, and that has much to celebrate with our Armed Forces.
In towns and cities across the UK, events will be going on right now, uniforms worn, medals polished and youth groups on parade. There will be flag raising, tweeting, echoes of support and press coverage. The Armed Forces will be very visible in our communities, and it is a campaign that we must keep going and celebrating each and every year as our Armed Forces become less-obvious on our streets for a number of reasons that we won’t go into right now.
For Garrison Towns Every Day is AFD
For some communities, the Armed Forces are very obvious, such as where Garrison towns exist. Tidworth, Colchester, Catterick, Faslane, Devonport, Plymouth… are all communities where the Armed Forces are embedded in daily life. Civilian and military families mix, and school children will understand that some of their friends’ mummies and daddies are away for periods of time, and these friendships can suddenly be broken with a new posting of their parents. An understanding is indelible in such places, and even when the bases close and the military move on, such as the case of towns like Canterbury, the culture, attachment and pride remain, and often, the uniform presence is held up by a small Reserve Forces presence.
Our National Treasure
There is a danger that our communities’ appreciation of the Armed Forces is left entirely to acts like today. As important as these events are, we should be mindful and value this community in every fabric of our society. One such way, would be to ensure that those settling in civilian communities play a part in helping shape its future, by standing in local government elections. As previously blogged, no one knows how many veterans are serving in local politics. This is something we intend to change through a future research project. We must, like with Armed Forces Day, continue to campaign about the value this population is to us all in all walks of life, not just in our national security. Celebrities are often cited individually as ‘national treasures’ but I’d argue that the real national treasure is around us each and every day, within our Armed Forces community, particularly those who have left and are resettling in our communities. It’s time that this talent, as demonstrated in business, is unlocked in public life, and a good start for anyone who has resettled or is a reservist, is to attend one of our #StandUpServeAgain insight workshops, in order to find out exactly how they can serve their communities once again.
Opportunities for Communities
Let us hope, that in a year from now, as local councils raise the flag in towns and cities across the UK, that the Armed Forces community is well-represented in the ranks of those who represent us in our councils. This will help ensure, that the flag is carried by them each
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About the author
Jonny Ball has run campaigns at every level of government, from local to National & European elections. Vitally, his experience from the time he led the MOD’s employer relationship management team has meant that he has become a trusted networker within the veterans community. He also works with Wounded, Injured and Sick veterans within arts recovery programmes.
His lengthy Army Reservist service includes operational tours of Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. In 2013, following a tour of Afghanistan the previous year, he was awarded a Commander Land Forces’ Commendation for his work as a Pashto Linguist and Intelligence Analyst.
This resume of political experience, veterans affairs knowledge and military service places Jonny in a unique position as the UK’s pioneer of transferable military skills to political service.
You can reach Jonny directly at firstname.lastname@example.org