The Falklands Veterans Parade yesterday was a moving tribute to those who fought and died for people living on British territory that had been invaded by a fascist dictatorship. Not only did the war liberate the Falklands, but an unexpected bonus was that it led to the fall of the junta and heralded democracy in Argentina.
Yet as the BBC reported this morning, more veterans of the conflict have lost their lives through committing suicide since the end of the war than in the conflict itself.
It is not surprising given the disgraceful way we treat out soldiers. Those returning from Iraq with physical injuries have been put in civilian hospitals and subjected to verbal abuse from so-called “British” citizens.
Those bearing the mental scars of war are reliant on charities like Combat Stress. Led by former submarine commander Toby Elliott, it does a superb job, but a reliance on voluntary donations means that it cannot help as many as Cmdr Elliott would like.
Those who return unharmed are often housed in substandard accommodation for a few months before being sent off on the next six-month tour. Those on frontline duties do not even receive the equivalent of the minimum wage.
A former member of the SAS told me last week that an injured mate of his had been treated at Selly Oak hospital alongside a wounded member of the Taliban, who was claiming asylum. The wounded British soldier was eventually discharged with permanent disabilities, left the army, and struggled to find the money to have his home adapted.
Meanwhile, the ex-Taliban member will have been fed, housed and nursed back to health by British taxapayers. If his claim for asylum is granted, he will be entitled to claim for full social security benefits backdated to the day he arrived in the UK.
The brave young men and women who put their lives on the line for their country deserve far better from their political leaders.