News19th August 2014

Value Our Veterans

DDay70 brought pomp and ceremony for our veterans, SLFirst would like to see that VIP consideration all year round.

by Sarah Lawrence

SLFirst Launches ‘Value Our Veterans’ Campaign

I have had the absolute pleasure of interviewing two World War II veterans in recent weeks. 91 years old Les Birch has previously written for the magazine about his hearing loss and how that has affected his love of music. 90 years old David Hogan, is the father of a close Deaf friend. Both men are typical of their generation, they did what they had to do with little fuss, no requirement for appreciation and just got on with their lives when they returned to civilian life. I am publishing articles on them both today.

Like many of those that fight for their country, I think both men are remarkable, not just for their time serving their country, but in the manner they have handled themselves since. I do though have one concern. Once or twice a year, we remember Les, David, other veterans and their fallen comrades. During those formal remembrance events, commentators extol their bravery and celebrate their achievements. Veterans are invited to events and on those one or two days, we show them Britain appreciates them. But what about the day, the week, the month afterwards. I fear that veterans like Les and David just disappear from the public’s consciousness, with boys and girls walking past their home without the slightest understanding or knowledge of the person behind the front door.

Les, David and all their colleagues are rarely asked to go into schools or speak to groups about their experiences, bringing history lessons to life, and in-putting real life experiences rather than the remote ones studied as part of a course.

Moyoral, Civic and Public Service events frequently involve VIPs being invited to the function but rarely does this involve the attendance of one or more of the local war veterans from within those same communities.

As time marches on, it is inevitable that the WWII veterans will be lost to us. For many, they have never told their story, even to close family and friends. They fought, they returned home, and they just got on with their lives. Before it’s too late, I am calling for people to support SLFirst’s ‘Value Our Veterans Campaign’, a year long campaign asking for public officials and private businesses to think about what they could do to value the veterans who live in their midst, whose efforts helped us to enjoy society today.

For example, I believe it would be a wonderful gesture for school children to take a food hamper to each veteran’s home on the run up to Christmas, a hamper provided by the Local Authority, with a simple message, “Thank you from all of the people who live around you.”

I would like to see schools cut through the red tape and invite veteran’s into their schools to talk to students about their real life experiences of the war, thereby remembering them for many years to come. Invite veterans into schools for Prize evenings, making them a VIP alongside school governor’s and local dignitaries.

Why shouldn’t local veterans be invited to Civic events and Civic ceremonies. Some, like Les, are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, some are in wheelchairs, some have other disabilities, so it will present organisers with a problem, but it is a problem we should be delighted to have, because all too soon these valiant men and women will be lost to us.

Of course, some veterans wont want the fuss and we must respect that. But at this stage of their lives, some will welcome the opportunity to pass on knowledge and to be overtly appreciated by people in their community. I have highlighted a couple of small things that could be done to say thank you. There will be many more ways to Value Our Veterans!

SLFirst's Campaign will be promoted throughout the year in the magazine, but also through our Facebook and Twitter pages. If you would like to support the campaign go to: Facebook or Twitter

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Community / News

19th August 2014