Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North and Member of the Armed Forces Bill Committee, will argue tomorrow that a new clause should be added to the Armed Forces Bill to introduce a Veterans’ ID card.
The Labour Manifesto pledged to introduce a Veterans’ card that would be free to service leavers and the last Labour Government entered into discussions about such a scheme.
Veterans in the USA, Canada and France benefit from similar schemes which give them a variety of benefits including priority access to healthcare as well as help with education and training.
“The recent report of the Task Force on the Military Covenant recommended introducing a Veterans’ card but the Government seems reluctant to take this forward”, Alex said today.
“A Veterans’ card would be a very real symbol of our gratitude to those who have served in the armed forces. It would also ensure the official connection to the armed forces that many veterans feel is missing once they leave.”
Alex will also argue that the Bill should be amended so that the minimum recruitment age for the Armed Forces is raised from 16 to 18. He said:
“The UK is one of fewer than 20 countries recruiting at 16 and no other state in the EU recruits at 16.”
“Evidence shows that recruits under the age of 18 are almost twice as likely as recruits aged 20 – 24 to drop out during training. Recruiting under 18s is a waste of resources. We do not let people join the Fire Service or the Police Force until they reach the age of 18 so why do we let minors join the Armed Forces?”