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Peredur Owen Griffiths, who represents Plaid Cymru, is one of four regional Senedd Members serving the South Wales East region.
It was an honour and a privilege to lay a wreath at the cenotaph on Caerphilly over the weekend with my Plaid Cymru colleague Delyth Jewell. We both represent the South Wales East region which is filled with communities that have strong ties to the Armed Forces.
Many of these communities that we represent have felt the horror and tragedy that go hand-in-hand with war. When the call came, many young men went to fight in the two World Wars. Sadly, many never came back home.
There is still conflict in the world today but, thankfully, nothing on the scale of either World War. It is incumbent on all world leaders to remember the past and learn from the mistakes that led to global war. If political leaders themselves or their close relatives were serving in the frontline, I strongly suggest they would be more interested in pursuing peace than they have shown to date.
The last two decades have seen UK armed service personnel involved in heavy action during wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both conflicts claimed the lives of Armed Forces personnel from Wales. For those that survived, many still bear the physical or mental scars of what they experienced whilst out there. There is a moral duty to ensure these people are supported when they return home but that has not always been the case.
Despite improvements in the services available to veterans in recent years, there is still a sense that some are not receiving the help they need to adjust to civilian life. Some veterans are still falling through the gaps in provision.
For example, the housing crisis that exists in Wales disproportionately affects our Armed Forces community. Research from the Royal British Legion has found that working-age adults in the veteran community are more likely to be sick or disabled than other UK adults.
This means that already long social housing waiting lists are made even longer when accessible housing is required. This issue was highlighted by ITV News who reported on Army veteran Tom Weaver, from Bridgend, who had to wait a decade for a fully accessible property to become available.
The cost-of-living crisis will also disproportionately affect the Armed Forces community. On average disabled households face additional costs of around £584 per month, a figure that will only be exacerbated with skyrocketing energy costs and rising inflation.
When you add in the higher rates of mental health issues and substance use among veterans, there is a clear need to look out for our former armed service personnel.
A lasting and fitting legacy of Remembrance Sunday would be to ensure that veterans are kept in the thoughts all year round of those who hold the purse strings when it comes to funding the services they need.
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