Thatcher on Thursday: Real Help For The Heroes.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere sympathy to the family, friends and Brothers of Drummer Lee Rigby.

There has been a lot of fuss and bother this week surrounding the proposed donation from the English Defence League that was declined by the forces charity, Help For Heroes.

People have been questioning Help for Heroes (H4H) decision on this, asking amongst other things, whether they have got too big if they can afford to decline such a sizeable donation that other charities would love to receive.

H4H responded by reiterating their policy about political motivation:

“H4H is strictly non-political. We accept that wars happen under any government and seek to support those people wounded in war, not to comment on the reasons behind such conflicts. Wars are brutal and Servicemen and women are injured almost daily – we can’t prevent this, but together, we can help those who are wounded in the service of our country to recover, and that is our focus; it’s as simple as that.

H4H has no affiliation with any political party and does not endorse the use of its name, brand or images for the promotion of any political viewpoint. The money raised by H4H’s supporters is used to support wounded service personnel regardless of gender, colour or creed and the Charity strongly opposes any individual or political party who would want otherwise, as well as those who seek to use the Charity’s name for their own political gain.”

So, if that’s their policy so be it. The fact that they benefit from money ie peppercorn rent on buildings from the government might make it a quango is not relevant at this point.  That’s another post for another day.

So, I have backed up the point of view of a charity.  That makes it a very short post. Well, actually, that is not the point of the article. The fact that the government benefits from the charity is the point of the article.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which includes British Troops is in Afghanistan at the request of the legitimate Afghan Government and the United Nations.  Therefore, we are not there occupying, or in an illegal war or any other reason that exists in the heads of some people. Our current role is to train the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police to be able to maintain the fragile democracy that has been achieved over the past twelve years.  This fragile democracy has come at a heavy price to the International forces, with countries having thousands of deaths and so very many more receiving life changing injuries.

So, has it been worth it?  We still have reports of girls’ schools being attacked, and of young sexually immature children being raped to death by their new “husbands”… But progress is noted by the fact I referred to Girls’ Schools.

Here’s a short documentary called “A tale of Two Wars” about 2 tours separated by 5 years.  It makes for interesting viewing.

Many articles have been written over the years about whether or not the servicemen and women have sacrificed their lives in vain or not.  It is not my intention to be drawn on that.  It is my intention to be drawn on the troops who have come home after having their life saved in Camp Bastion by the most brilliant trauma medical personnel in the world.

The most severely injured British troops are evacuated back to Britain to continue with their immediate medical treatment.  Hopefully these people recover enough to be transferred for rehabilitation to the various accommodation and services afforded to them by Help For Heroes.  This Charity, initially set up to raise funds to build a therapy pool is now responsible for the rehab of hundreds of servicemen and women who have had life changing injuries.

This is the point at which I struggle.  We have had successive governments who have funded the provision of troops and weapons to initially fight against terror and subsequently fight for democracy on foreign soil… These very same governments are not providing the care which should be afforded these people when they come home with their minds and bodies broken.

Much is made of the charities which provide care and rehabilitation for the soldier who has a damaged body. What you don’t see too much of is the requirement of those soldiers who return from Theatres of Operation with a damaged mind..  Out of the 180,000 + troops sent to Afghanistan since 2003 alone, it is estimated that 8500 will return with a mental health condition such as PTSD.  The government pledged £2m to Combat Stress on their election and provide £200,000 per annum to fund a helpline. These figures are deeply uncomfortable. Is mental health not such a fashionable thing to support? Does the lack of physical wounds make the daily war they fight not make the government’s war visible enough to the general public to warrant more support?

War cannot be cleaned up and made pretty. It is what it is – dirty and bloody. This needs to be acknowledged more by the government.  Not just by the token financial grants given to some military charities but by full funding for the rehabilitation of our injured troops.

I am a firm believer in the Third Sector.  It has a vital place in society.  If you want to find out about Autism, you go to the National Autistic Society, If you want to help provide care for dogs, you go the The Dogs Trust, If you want help with the rusty narrow gauge engine in the shed at the bottom of your garden, you seek help from the Rusty Narrow Gauge Engine Society.  I should look the last one up to see if it exists.  Nah.

You will note that none of these charities are set up to provide the care for people who were put at risk by their employer, the British Government. It is my opinion that the government is being absolved of its responsibilities to these men and woman in its use of military charities in this way.  There is a place for Military Charities as an additional support service for the few who would sacrifice so much for the many.  The Government should be providing so very much more.

So next time you are outraged by a Military Charity sticking to its policy, don’t complain to them.  Instead, use the time to write to your Prime Minister asking why he has failed these people in having a need for charities like Help For Heroes in the first place.

This post is not a criticism of any charities – they all do incredible work with the funds they raise.  It is a criticism of successive Governments.

Below is a link to a website that leads to a large number of UK Armed Forces Charities should you feel inspired to donate.

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

Lest We Forget.

3 comments on “Thatcher on Thursday: Real Help For The Heroes.

  1. Ian W
    May 30, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

    It is an unfortunate fact that the Government and particularly the Treasury do NOT care for servicemen injured in the course of their service. They have over the last few years continually and consistently reduced the funding and support available. They have disestablished the service hospitals so that the expertise in dealing with long recovery battle wounds and psychological effects has been lost to save pennies. Servicemen returning wounded can now find themselves assaulted on the wards of general NHS hospitals. Injured servicemen are then given the same treatment by bureaucrats on whether they are ‘fit to work’ and have to go through innumerable tests to ‘qualify’ for any state assistance which is grudgingly given and withdrawn at any excuse.
    In the USA politicians of all stripes are seen to support those who are injured in service and are not ashamed to be seen at the US military hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Indeed recently Prince ‘Harry’ was seen at such a hospital. There is a large department of Verterans Affairs, and local centers for Veterans of Foreign Wars all federally funded and retired members of the US forces qualify for permanent free health care and special insurance and banking rates. This of course is not the case in the UK where politicians are happy to use troops as PR opportunities and as ‘street cred’ in international negotiations while those same troops are receiving pink slips and if injured will be treated as just another accident victim.

    It should not be like this – but it is the uncaring civil service accountants in the Treasury, penny pinching Chancellors and ignorant politicians that are to blame.

  2. Simon Newman
    May 31, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    “The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which includes British Troops is in Afghanistan at the request of the legitimate Afghan Government”

    It’s only the Afghan govt because we (the US and UK) overthrew the Taliban and installed it. We did that as payback for 9/11, and then some idea of “nation-building” – turning Afghan Pashtun tribes into civilised folk.
    Anyway that’s completely irrelevant to the support of British veterans, the soldiers don’t set government policy.


  1. Steynian 471rd | Free Canuckistan! - June 3, 2013

    […] THE BOGPAPER– Delingpole on Friday: Matthew Parris’s Spectator column on UKIP is really shite; Thatcher on Thursday: Real Help For The Heroes; In praise of a country worth fighting for … […]

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