The Isle of Man’s Armed Forces Community Covenant has enjoyed strong support during its first year of operation.
Juan Watterson MHK, the Isle of Man Government’s Armed Forces Champion, said he was delighted with the positive response from a number of key organisations and the wider Manx public.
Mr Watterson yesterday (Tuesday 20 May) informed Tynwald Members of the progress that has been achieved in terms of promoting the welfare of our armed forces personnel and their families.
The Annual Report on the Operation of the Armed Forces Covenant outlines the work undertaken over the past 12 months, including an update by the War Memorials Preservation Committee.
The Covenant is an official declaration of the Island’s recognition and support for those residents who serve, or have served, in the British Armed Forces. It was signed in April last year by Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK, Mr Watterson and Brigadier Nick Fitzgerald MBE, Commander of the 42nd North West Brigade based at Fulwood Barracks in Preston.
The Covenant seeks to ensure that the Island’s military veterans and active personnel are not disadvantaged by their service. Work focuses on a wide range of issues, including raising public awareness of challenges faced by past and present members of the armed forces, acknowledging the role played by reservists and establishing closer links with UK Government Departments.
The annual report states that strengthening the relationship with the Island’s business community is helping to secure employment for returning servicemen and women, while a comparison against best practice in the North West of England shows the Isle of Man is ‘doing exceptionally well on all fronts’.
Mr Watterson said: ‘I am delighted the Covenant has met with such a positive response, from within Government and the armed forces community, and especially the wider community including the Chamber of Commerce. Much has been achieved over the year, building on the Island’s strong support for the armed forces. It has also been gratifying to see how much the armed forces have been able to do for the community via school visits, as well as attendance at Armed Forces Day and Remembrance Day parades.’
He added: ‘There is still work to do, but the first year demonstrates the strong mutual links that already exist, and how keen people are to offer assistance to returning servicemen and women. I look forward to working to progress the aims of the covenant to ensure it remains a living commitment on both sides to work together for the benefit of our Island and our people, whether on deployment, returned home or long retired from active duty.’
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