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F e d e r a t i o n N e w s

Federation A Moral Obligation


The Armed Forces’ constituency is larger than many people imagine – at its core is a total of 5 million people. Add the Armed Forces extended ‘family’ and the total is nearer 10 million. The Service Personnel Command Paper is therefore an extremely important piece of Governmental work. Dawn McCafferty reports.


he Service Personnel Command Paper has been given the rather unwieldy title of: ‘The Nation’s Commitment – Cross-

Government Support to our Armed Forces, their Families and Veterans.

Readers may be aware that the RAF Families Federation contributed to this high level, cross-Government study. Some described this work as a ‘once in a generation opportunity’ for the MoD to influence other Government Departments’ support to the military constituency and we certainly played our part in this interesting debate on the status of the Armed Forces within the UK.

As you would expect, we focussed our efforts on trying to ensure that Ministers responsible for the delivery of public services understood the key issues impacting on RAF families. Our main aim was to ensure that the RAF lifestyle was properly represented to those Departments external to the MoD who have such a significant impact on RAF personnel and the way we all live our lives.

The Paper was published in July 2008 and to give an overview, what follows is a summary of the key areas of the Paper (The full document can be found on our website).

The Enduring Principles. The starting point from which all Government Departments should view their support to the Armed Forces was identified as follows: ‘Government has a moral obligation, on behalf of the nation, to honour its responsibility towards its Armed

Forces. The essential starting point is that those who serve must not be disadvantaged by virtue of what they do – and this will sometimes call for degrees of special treatment’.

The following enduring principles were agreed:

As much Lifestyle Choice as any other Citizen. Despite the unique demands of their profession, Service people and their families should be able to manage their lives as effortlessly as anyone else. Serving the nation as a sailor, soldier or airman must not be a barrier to routine life events such as getting a mortgage, opening a bank account, finding a dentist, accessing benefits, applying for social housing, or applying for residency or citizenship for oneself or one’s family. And since about 70% of officer and 40% of other ranks serve for well over a decade, their needs and the demands of the Service will change whilst their uniform is worn – such people must be offered real and sustainable choices to achieve their own balance between the demands of military life, personal development, Service mobility and family stability.

Continuity of Public Services. Service personnel and their families are obliged to move home much more frequently than most people – often they have no choice of where or when. This risks disadvantaging them in relation to others – for example in allocation of school places, or provision for special educational needs for their children,

and in access to benefits and core NHS services. And this may happen repeatedly. This is not just. Service personnel and their dependants must receive continuity of public services wherever they are based and whenever they are obliged to move.

Proper return for Sacrifice. Servicemen and women accept conditions that impose limitations on how they live their lives, and they can suffer terrible physical and mental injury. Service personnel will receive the treatment and welfare support they need for as long as they require it. And that need often extends through life and is equally applicable to families.

The Armed Forces’ Constituency Matters. The Armed Forces’ constituency is larger than many people imagine – at its core are those currently serving and their immediate families, the volunteer reserve forces and the immediate families of those currently mobilised, veterans, and those receiving widows and widowers pensions. This is a total of over 5 million people. Extended families, regular reserves and cadets, the immediate families of veterans, and others, would bring the total to over 10 million. Formally acknowledging this fact for the first time, Government departments and, where appropriate, the Devolved Administrations will take account of the impact on the Armed Forces constituency and the strategic effect upon the Armed Forces when making policy or considering legislative proposals.

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