Marching forward

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THAT the last combat soldiers have left Iraq has not lessened the instability in the Middle East. Far from it. This week’s co-ordinated bombings in Baghdad were intended to debstabilise this fledgling democracy.

Likewise Afghanistan where UK and Nato service personnel continue to pay with their lives, even though the number of soldiers is being gradually reduced a decade after military intervention began in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

And, even if peace does eventually prevail in both countries, and the word “if” remains the greatest imponderable of all, every soldier who has served with such distinction will continue to require the steadfast support of this nation.

For, even if the fighting does end, many will have to endure life-changing injuries, and illnesses, until their dying day. So, too, will their loved ones and families who also have to live with the consequences of war every day. Their plight is all too easily overlooked.

That is why the Yorkshire Post was proud to support ABF – The Soldiers’ Charity this Christmas, and why the organisation’s work will become even more important in the years ahead as military personnel become accustomed to life away from the front line.

The workload is already immense. Yet with planned Ministry of Defence cuts threatening support services, despite David Cameron’s much-vaunted Military Covenant, this organisation’s workload, and that of other similar charities, will only increase – especially in this region, home to Catterick Garrison.

And while the Royal British Legion’s annual appeal brings great focus to the heroism of the Armed Forces, the sheer number of young men who have returned from foreign fields with serious injuries means this effort must now be replicated every week of the year.