|(C) Basildon Echo|
I noticed this article in the Basildon Echo the other day, sorry I couldn't find an on line link to it, but it also got me thinking about our disabled ex servicemen. Lets face it since the illegal war in Iraq and our involvement in Afghanistan there are an awful lot of disabled ex soldiers out there and I wondered what we are doing for them?
I have to confess I have never heard or read before of a local authority doing this and the article does not say whether it is for a civilian or an ex-serviceman [who is of course a civilian]. In fact the article goes on to state that it is 20 years since Basildon has built a purpose built house for a disabled tenant!
Now much has been said in the last year or so about the Armed Forces Covenant and wasn't it a pity that Tony Blair took us to that illegal war in Iraq without giving one thought to the consequences of dealing with the severely injured and disabled servicemen and their families prior to taking us there, just as he did not give it a serious thought after we started to see injured personnel coming home. The same can be said for his successor Gordon Brown. And don't think the Tories with David Cameron would have done much about it either if there had not been a groundswell of revulsion from the general public through publicity of the dire circumstances and lack of facilities that were available to begin with either!
So if you read the comments on the link above for the Covenant you will notice that housing is specifically mentioned and I wonder if that also means that Basildon [only because they are the ones mentioned in the article above] and other local authorities throughout the United Kingdom should be spending more money on building purpose built homes and not just for ex-servicemen?
And of course there is a dilemma in that for cash strapped local authorities as well. The Covenant is or is to be enshrined in LAW so does that mean that local authorities are and will be obliged to build these purpose built homes? And while they may need to do it by law for ex-servicemen can they opt out of doing it for non ex-servicemen, but, will that then fall foul of human rights laws whereby they are providing a facility for one section of the disabled and not for another. If they must build them does the money come from central government funds from a special reserve or from MOD budgets? Who knows!
Having said that I have still found it difficult to get an hard numbers but buried at the end of an NAO report is this little statistic:
522 military personnel were seriously injured on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan between October 2001 and October 2009. Personnel on operations have attended medical facilities 125,000 times for minor injury and illness since 2006 and a further 1,700 times for mental health conditions. The NAO has estimated that the cost of medical care provided as a result of military operations was £71 million in 2008-09.
For the full report see: injury_on_military_operations
Now the report does not tell us how many of the 522 seriously injured have ended up as disabled personnel, but the figure is probably pretty high and whatever it is, surely they are going to need serious consideration from local authorities as to their continued welfare which not only includes proper housing but ongoing medical treatment from the NHS. All of this costs and I am not arguing that is should not be paid out but should local communities have to bare the burden of it like we did for the bank collapse? Once again our government is taking unilateral action without the consent of the majority of the people and then we suffer financially.
As an ex serviceman who, after being shot,was given first class treatment many years ago by Military Medical personnel in Military Hospitals I am appalled at the the way servicemen are treated today but it does not surprise me and I personally believe that The Covenant, enshrined in Law or not is nothing more than an exercise by a bunch of cynical politicians using and promoting it to get them out of a public embarrassment. It sickens me that so much of what Servicemen receive has to be bought and paid for by charities and I am not knocking the charities, BUT it is not charity they should be relying on it is the morally bankrupt governments who send them there in the first place, in their name, not mine!
So I am all for purpose built homes for the disabled both ex-servicemen and those born with a disability and local authorities should be providing them, but, for servicemen's homes the money should be provided by central government and one way to do this would be to reduce the expenses that MP's are allowed to claim and place this into a social housing fund for disabled Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen.