Saturday, October 20, 2007

Troops treated like vermin, veterans tell Queen

Horrifically injured servicemen returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are being shown "the most detestable contempt" by the Government, two war veterans have said in a letter to the Queen.

Retired servicemen George Kay and Ricky Clitheroe delivered their letter to the Queen at Buckingham Palace Speaking outside Buckingham Palace, where they handed the letter to an aide, Mr Clitheroe said he thought returning troops were being "treated like vermin".

The pair also accused the Government of sending troops to fight as "political mercenary forces" in "illegal wars".

Mr Clitheroe, a former corporal with the Parachute Regiment, from Catford in south London, said: "When we fought, we fought for King and country. "Nowadays we feel sorry for the servicemen because they are fighting for politicians. But they come back and are treated like vermin."

Mr Kay, who served with the SAS and twice escaped German captivity in 1945, heavily criticised the lack of support for injured troops. The former sergeant major said: "Why can't we have a naval hospital?

The Ministry of Defence says there are insufficient numbers of wounded soldiers but we know there are over 800 wounded soldiers now as a result of Iraq and Afghanistan."

In the two-page letter, they criticised ministers for showing troops who had fought in "illegal wars... the most detestable contempt of all by callously ignoring the desperate needs of those luckless service men and women who suffer the horrific injuries of modern warfare, all too often caused by the irresponsible disregard for their basic needs in equipment."

They also accused "successive governments" of treating the Queen's constitutional position with "absolute contempt"."We have witnessed your governments, and in particular your prime ministers, using the soldiers, sailors and airmen under your Majesty's command as political mercenary forces," they wrote.

Mr Clitheroe told The Daily Telegraph: "She's the governor. The Queen is in charge - it's Her Majesty's Forces."Mr Kay, who joined the Army two days before his 16th birthday and fought the length of the Second World War, revealed he did not think his son Daniel should be fighting in the Middle East.Corporal Daniel Kay, 28, has just started a six-month tour of Afghanistan, after serving in Iraq.But Mr Kay said: "I don't think he should be out there, especially Iraq."Their letter follows increasing pressure on the Government to improve a range of welfare issues for troops, including accommodation and injury compensation.

Problems highlighted by The Daily Telegraph include the level of compensation paid to injured troops, the lack of dedicated medical facilities for many of them, the poor standard of much military accommodation, the lack of a specific military award for those serving in war-torn southern Afghanistan, and the poor official reception from councils for those returning home.

The paper also campaigned on the problems with lack of resources to ensure military inquests are concluded more swiftly.

Last month the Royal British Legion launched its campaign to ensure the Government respected the Military Covenant, the agreement by which the state promises to look after troops and their families because they risk their lives for the country.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "All correspondence is opened and read by the Queen's office. All correspondence receives a reply from Buckingham Palace."
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/10/15/narmy315.xml

NWN: Sorry folks, but Blogger is not allowing images to be posted at the moment. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

We are also sure that Her Majesty will be deeply upset about the treatment of 'her' troops.

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