Falklands veterans still turning to the Royal British Legion 40 years on - Nicola Cook

Forty years ago this month, British forces were engaged in conflict to protect the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.

Sadly, the 10-week campaign saw a devastating loss of life on both sides as well as amongst the civilian population of the Islands.

Throughout the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War, the Royal British Legion is commemorating the service and sacrifice of those involved and I would like to issue a personal invitation to veterans in Yorkshire to take part in our national event to commemorate the end of the conflict.

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On June 14, the RBL is inviting Falklands veterans, civilians and members of bereaved families to attend a special service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The steel helmets abandoned by Argentine armed forces who surrendered at Goose Green to British Falklands Task Force troops in June 1982. Picture: PA/PA Wire.

Thirty thousand sailors, marines, soldiers, airmen and merchant mariners took part in the Falklands War along with many civilians who supported the war effort. The RBL’s commemorations will honour and remember this great collective contribution as well as the sacrifice of the 255 British personnel who sadly lost their lives.

Liberating the Falkland Islands was a difficult and challenging mission which could not have been achieved without the bravery and dedication of members of the Armed Forces and civilians who were sent to a conflict 8,000 miles away at a moment’s notice.

The RBL pays tribute to the immense contribution of civilians during the Falklands War, from those who joined the Task Force to the Falkland Islanders and those back home who provided vital support. We are working in collaboration on the commemorations with several other organisations including the Falkland Islands Government, the Ministry of Defence, the South Atlantic Medal Association, the Falkland Veterans Foundation, all relevant military associations, other veteran charities and the Merchant Navy.

As a champion of Remembrance, the RBL is bringing people together to remember the service and sacrifice of the UK Armed Forces, their families, and the civilian communities involved in the Falklands War to ensure their contribution is never forgotten.

But, even though 40 years have passed, we are still being approached today by veterans and families who need support because of their involvement in the Falklands War.

Research has shown there can be a delay in the psychological impact of conflict and for many the battle with painful memories and experiences is only just beginning.

There are veterans of the Falklands War who still struggle today as a result of the campaign. The RBL is supporting many Falklands veterans and their families living with physical and mental health challenges caused by their service in the war, and I would say to any Falklands veterans in the county, and their families: if you need help, please contact the RBL, our support extends across the whole of Yorkshire and it’s never too soon or too late to reach out.

We also support any veteran and their family who have fallen on tough times even if this has not been caused by their service. It is a way of saying thank you for all they have done for the country. Whilst most Falklands veterans live a full and active life, for some the lack of connection to those they served alongside and who understand their experiences can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

They come to us for support with issues such as mobility, poverty and life challenges such as family breakdowns, and mental health. Regardless of the issue, the RBL will support those who have served for the rest of the lives. We are available seven days a week on 0808 802 8080.

We welcome veterans, civilians and bereaved family members from Yorkshire who were involved in the conflict to join us at our event at the National Memorial Arboretum on June 14. The commemorations there will recognise and take pride in the service of the Falklands generation, and it will be an opportunity for those who served and lost loved ones to join us, to reconnect and remember together.

We remain committed to ensuring that service and sacrifice in more recent conflicts is recognised and that all generations of the Armed Forces community know the RBL is here to support them, for life.

- If you would like to attend the event at the National Memorial Arboretum on June 14, register your interest on the RBL website at www.rbl.org.uk/falklands40

Nicola Cook is Assistant Director of Operations (North) for the Royal British Legion.