We Need To Do More For Our Veterans

This year is the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings and we are seeing a lot of media coverage of this important historical event.

When I think of D Day I think of my Grandfather Denis Warwick who was 25 years old at the outbreak of WW2 and underwent surgery in order to be fit for military service. He was a private in the 6th Airborne Division of the Parachute Regiment, took part in the D Day landings, went on to fight in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge and ended his war in Germany. Returning from service with a war wound in his left knee (an injury that troubled him for the rest of his life) he supported his family as a coal delivery driver and then as a building labourer; he died from a heart attack aged 62.

Growing up, Grandad Warwick was one of my heroes: a picture of him in his uniform had pride of place in my Grandparents home and as a boy who loved Commando books full of fictional tales about WW2 heroism. I hoped that one day I would get to talk to him about his exploits in that conflict. That didn’t happen because I was only twelve years old when he died and when I did see him the opportunity never arose. I do however remember him as the man who had his special armchair in the rented house my grandparents lived in for much of their lives bringing up 7 children.

In adulthood, my thoughts moved to the belief that my Grandfather was a war veteran who like many others was failed by our country. After WW1 Lloyd George famously talked of building homes fit for heroes; I am sure after WW2 similar promises were made. Denis Warwick was a tough little man, the son of Irish immigrants who spent his last years struggling to find work due to failing health and suffering for him the embarrassment of having to sign on the dole. I believe he died a broken man.

Wind forward to the 21st Century and we still have veterans returning from our involvement in the interventions in the Middle East, many of whom suffer health problems as a result and, in some cases, end up homeless.

So on the 75th anniversary of D Day I will think about my Grandfather and all those brave men who took part in that bloody conflict. Going forward, I will say to any politicians willing to listen that we need to do more for our veterans.

* David is a member of Horsham and Crawley Liberal Democrats

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  • Mick Taylor 5th Jun '19 - 1:31pm

    Yes, we do. We need to stop getting them to fight other people’s battles and being the world’s policeman. We need to pull our troops out of all current battle zones and work instead for peace through negotiation. Fighting merely costs lives and delays the inevitable – sitting round a table talking peace.
    It doesn’t matter where the conflict is taking place, our role is not to send in soldiers to get killed, it is to work tirelessly for peace.
    And yes, veterans need help, support and most probably money, but we must stop creating more of them. Jaw jaw is always better than war war.

  • chris moore 5th Jun '19 - 2:11pm

    Mick Taylor 5th Jun ’19 – 1:31pm “Jaw jaw is always better than war war.”

    WWII is a counter-example.

    Talking to Hitler bought Britain more time to re-arm; but it also allowed Hitler more time to re-arm as well as to absorb and consolidate more foreign territory.

  • chris moore 5th Jun '19 - 2:13pm

    Thanks for the article, David. I agree strongly with your sentiments. Too many veterans end up with psychological and economic difficulties.

    (BTW congratulations on gaining ten seats in the Horsham local election results!)

  • John Marriott 5th Jun '19 - 4:29pm

    @Mick Taylor
    Fine words, sir! “Jaw jaw not war war”. And then there’s “Turn the other cheek”. Of course we should avoid conflict if we can; but, as Chris Moore, implies, that isn’t always possible. Whatever the causes or the rights or wrongs, if we send our troops into conflict of any kind, we have a duty of care to them and their dependents. To neglect this is an outrage.

    I have to say that I am somewhat uncomfortable about British soldiers, who served, for example, in Northern Ireland possibly having to face prosecution when other ‘combatants’ appear to have been allowed to escape punishment.

  • I object in the strongest terms to John Marriott’s comments. Northern Ireland is as much a part of the U.K. as Somerset. However Mr Marriott appears to be comparing it to Iraq or Afghanistan. At no stage during the “troubles” was Northern Ireland a war zone.

    British soldiers who broke the law should be prosecuted. If we do not hold soldiers accountable for wrongdoing then there is no rule of law. During the 1970s and 1980s British officialdom did not put the British army on par with IRA or loyalist terrorists and it’s disappointing that so many English people are now doing so.

    I wonder how many days Mr Marriott spent in Northern Ireland during the 1970s and 1980s. Frankly, I’m not comfortable with his attitude towards criminal wrongdoing.

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