More than a number….

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You never forget your army number.

You never forget the friends and the good times you shared.

You never forget the pride of wearing the uniform and the pledge to the Queen and country.

You walk with pride and respect on remembrance day.

You read the names of the walls of the National Arboretum and fill with tears at the thought of the lives lost and the sacrifice given by all the services.

You do not forget.  Neither you should.

So why did more service  personnel  and veterans die by suicide in 2012 than were killed in action.

Because the Government forgot.

Because the MOD abandoned them.

Because in the end they did not have a name, they were just a number.

“Broken by Battle” shown on television tonight highlighted the tragic and unbelievable stories of veterans who took their own lives due to PTSD.     It was a shocking and disturbing program and one that made me feel ashamed.

Once someone leaves the army they are no longer counted in MOD figures for PTSD or suicide.   They are the shadow army, the shadowy figures that the MOD and the Forces do not want to take responsibility for.

These people have faced dangers and seen things that I not would wish on my worst enemy to see.

Yet they are not counted on official figures.    They do not matter.

Drug users get so much help from the Government and the NHS … yet ex soldiers struggle to be heard.   Some of them cannot get treatment, some of them cannot admit their fears and their depression because they have been taught to show no weakness.

There is something vile in our society and I am ashamed.

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Sisters in Arms

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There are times in your life that will stay with you forever.

Last weekend was one of them.

Over 80 ex WRAC women met up in Fort William to celebrate their time in the army and to remember friends and colleagues who have left to march in the great parade square above.

The years fell away as we celebrated friendships, old and new, danced like we were all 30 years younger and partied like tomorrow would never come.    We became one again, the celebrated sisterhood of women that join together in comradeship that we cannot explain to those who have never served in the forces.

Our most poignant moment was the tree ceremony, where we dedicated a tree to our comrades and our memories of our past.    The words spoken by Maggie Purkis brought a tear to everyone’s eye as we stood in the most beautiful forest, over looking a loch and onto the grandeur of Ben Nevis.

It is memory that united us all, the ladies of the ATS and WRAC … the Sisters in Arms

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