MOVES TO FORMALLY recognise the work of armed forces personnel and veteran servicemen and women are being pressed by the SNP at Westminster.
The party spokesman on the armed services, Kirsten Oswald MP, has secured a debate on the issue of a National Defence Medal, the subject of a long-standing campaign in Moray and throughout the UK.
Moray’s historical connections with all branches of the armed forces means there are now a significant number of veterans as well as serving airmen and soldiers in the region.
Several groups have been involved in the campaign for a general service medal as a right, including many who have been involved in dangerous and challenging deployments – but are awarded no medal because their service was not undertaken in actual combat.
Now Ms Oswald is asking the UK Government to acknowledge that a medal should be awarded to veterans “as a mark of gratitude and respect”. Prior attempts to have such an award was deemed “too expensive” by the current government.
The MP said: “I am delighted to have secured a debate in Westminster Hall on this issue. Millions of veterans of the armed forces who served but did not necessarily fight in battles – should receive a National Defence Medal.
“In other countries – like the United States and Australia – it is practice to recognise service after three of four years. But in the UK only after 15 years do service personnel get long service and good conduct medals. This leaves many who have diligently undertaken often dangerous roles with no tangible recognition of their service.
“When I raised this recently in the House of Commons I was disappointed in the minister’s response. It was a little too dismissive and failed to understand that the issues of a National Defence Medal is not something competitive or demeaning to others – and it should certainly not be cost driven. It is about recognising service.
“We should be constantly aware of just how much our service personnel sacrifice to keep us safe – and maintain our security.
“The Tories need to rethink this slightly cavalier approach. Meeting the duty of care that we owe our service personnel must always be our top priority – and I hope my debate goes some way to addressing that.’’