Let’s Count Them In

Nearly a century ago, Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George called for ‘homes fit for heroes’ for those men returning from the Great War, and it was only three years later that the National Census charted how those returning veterans tried to re-enter civilian life. While the personal data will not be released to the public until 2022, we know it will list farmers and doctors, factory-workers and teachers, dock-hands and postman; but it will not list the physical wounds or the psychological trauma that those veterans faced and dealt with for the rest of their lives.

To help our current veterans and serving personnel, the Royal British Legion has launched the Count Me In campaign to promote the inclusion of questions relating to the Armed Forces in the 2021 census. Despite 1 in 10 people being estimated to be members of the Armed Forces community, from what data was gathered in the last census we know more about the self-professed Jedi population in the UK than those who have served in Britain’s military.

That is why I proposed a motion at Cheltenham Borough Council yesterday to not only support the Count Me In campaign but to call for the Council’s Armed Forces Champion, the Leader of the Council, to write to our local MP and ask him to support our call for the 2021 census to include questions concerning our Armed Forces community. This, coupled with Cheltenham’s fantastic ‘Homes for Veterans’ scheme can ensure that local government, charities and service providers can fully meet the needs of our serving personnel, veterans and their families and continue to fulfil our commitment to the Gloucestershire Armed Forces Community Covenant.

I know several Councils have already taken this step and I am proud that Cheltenham has now taken it to, so I ask all Lib Dem groups to present similar motions to their local Councils so then we can do more to help serving personal and veterans. We count on our armed forces – so let’s Count Them In too.

* Alex Hegenbarth is the Lib Dem PPC for the Tewkesbury constituency

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.

One Comment

  • What a valuable initiative Alex. At a group I worked with in London only four years ago we had three World War Two veterans and three people who lost parents in World War Two. For people living with dementia and those working alongside them the traumas of 70 plus years ago can be astonishingly fresh and challenging.

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