In December 2017 Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson witnessed the 2,000th signing of the Armed Forces Covenant since it was introduced, illustrating the widespread approval of the Covenant.
If you’ve heard of the Armed Forces Covenant but never found a moment to look up exactly what it is, it’s outlined on the Armed Forces Covenant website as this: “To those who proudly protect our nation, who do so with honour, courage, and commitment, the Armed Forces Covenant is the Nation’s commitment to you.
It is a pledge that together we acknowledge and understand that those who Serve or who have Served in the Armed Forces, and their families, should be treated with fairness and respect in the communities, economy and society they Serve with their lives.”
Although you might expect such a solemn oath to have been enshrined into law, it isn’t – and perhaps that’s the greatest thing about it. The Armed Forces Covenant exists because people want it to exist, not because it is legally binding. So many other legal agreements become, unwittingly, a ‘race to the bottom’ where individuals and organisations affected simply aim to reach minimum standards or just about manage to ‘tick the box’. The Armed Forces Covenant is different, but then, so is the UK.
The UK is not a warlike nation. We don’t need to parade austere Military assets for the world to stare at in awe, as they do elsewhere. That isn’t to say that we don’t take our Armed Forces seriously; far from it. Such is the appetite for holding the Armed Forces community in esteem that the Covenant stands on its own in helping people from the Forces family to have the same access to government and commercial services and products as any other citizen. In so doing, support is provided in areas including: education and family wellbeing, having a home, starting a new career, access to healthcare, ﬁnancial assistance and discounted services.
Support for the Armed Forces Covenant doesn’t just stem from organisations related speciﬁcally with the Armed Forces. Commitments to the Covenant have been made by businesses of all sizes, charities and communities as well as at local government level. Furthermore, it doesn’t end with Forces personnel but extends to their families too, again perhaps highlighting something of its heartfelt nature, rather than its formal structure.
Wherever you are in the UK you can ﬁnd out more about speciﬁc Armed Forces friendly schemes in your area, not least because all 407 local authorities in Great Britain have pledged to uphold the Armed Forces Covenant.