THE importance of military service men and women has been recognised at a special event at the Royal Marines’ Commando Training Centre (CTC) in Lympstone.
The armed forces covenant, originally signed in 2012, was reaffirmed by both Devon County Council (DCC) and Torbay Council today, Wednesday [22 March].
Both local authorities have pledged to help members of the armed services settle into civilian life away and provide easier access to employment, healthcare and housing.
It is estimated around 100,000 Devon residents are service veterans.
Devon County Council leader Cllr John Hart and independent Torbay councillor Cllr Nicole Amil, who is armed forces champion, signed the covenant along with Colonel Chris Haw, commandant at Lympstone.
'This is a really special day for us,' said Cllr Amil. 'We are reaffirming our commitment which was in fact 10 years ago, and the world has changed a lot in 10 years, so we have new challenges.
'Throughout this period, we feel for Torbay that we’re supporting our armed forces, which of course involved our serving armed forces, our veterans, our reservists and our cadets.
'We need to see that the armed forces receive the same fairness that everybody else has when they leave the forces in particular.'
Conservative Cllr Roger Croad, a former paratrouper and lead member for the armed forces in Devon, wants military service people to be afforded the same opportunities as everyone else.
'We must look after these people,' he said. 'Part of the covenant is the fact that it actually recognises that, and it cements the bond between civilian life and the armed forces.
'I’m not saying that armed forces or veterans should be privileged in any way, but I want to make sure the fact that they’ve got full access to what civilian life has got.'
Colonel Haw feels the covenant will help service people overcome the issues they face when they re-enter civilian life.
'I think, sometimes, people have been so invested in their career that they don’t necessarily think about what they’re going to do afterwards,' he said.
'And so having a useful route into future employment is really helpful. I’d also say that I think families who move around with their job do struggle to have healthcare provision.
'They also struggle sometimes to get places at school is they have children of that age, so the armed forces covenant does cover a lot of that and I think that’s a really profoundly important thing.'
Lady Arran, vice lord-lieutenant of Devon, praised the armed services as a 'major asset'.
She added: 'They are much appreciated, much admired and, as I said earlier on when I was talking, they get involved in so many different aspects; it’s not just military.
'Whether it’s floods, whether it was during the pandemic when they did such a wonderful job, and they are always there to support the community they are living in.'