Help for Heroes.Posted: May 28, 2013
I have to admit I’ve not been completely comfortable with the “Help for Heroes” campaign in the past. It just kinda has a jingoistic, “our boys” vibe to it and the sense that if you don’t give to them you’re somehow less British and don’t give a damn about the soldiers.
I get why the charity exists and it does valuable work, as I think support for returning servicemen is an important issue and something which should be dealt with better.
The adjustment back onto civvy street must be quite stressful and disorientating. Their whole way of life changes and they find themselves unemployed and back in a world they’ve been absent from for a couple of years. The structure, camaraderie and purpose of life in the military is stripped away and confronted with time by themselves it’s no wonder many ex-servicemen struggle to adjust.
Throw in the fact that many have probably seen horrible things and may suffer from PTSD, and it’s easy to see how many will have on returning home. Back in 2007 it was believed that 10% of the homeless people here in the UK were ex-military (see here).
It’s clearly an issue and one can’t help feel that the armed forces themselves should be doing more to rehabilitate it’s personnel back into society, as it does seem as though they get a “thank you” and a handshake and are then shown the door (I appreciate this might not be the case, but as I have no experience with the services this is how it appears on the outside).
Similarly, I think support should be offered to those injured in the line of duty. I’m aware that thanks to the NHS this is catered to and there are also army pensions in place, but the government pot only goes so far and it’s nice that a charity has been set up to meet the shortfall and help out. Whether more funding should be directed this way by the government is another issue.
I may not agree with the way our armed services have been deployed, but I’ve always tried to stick to the attitude of being anti-war but pro-troops. Unfortunately in the world we live in an army is essential, and it must be remembered that most of those who join up are just regular, decent people doing a job. A difficult job that most of us, myself included, would probably not be able to do.
Some may abuse their power and I don’t like the way the word “hero” is thrown over them all. For me, heroism is something more than just putting on a uniform and carrying a gun. It’s acts of courage and decency, and can be performed by anyone. If every one of our soldiers is a hero, then are all the soldiers in Myanmar or Zimbabwe heroes too?
That being said, I’ll give to the charity when I can, for the reasons I’ve discussed above, even if I do feel slight unease with the way the charity is pushed at times, especially it’s endorsement by media outlets like The Sun.
But this week I’ve gained new respect for the charity. I already admired the good work they did, but this week they showed a whole other level of class by refusing money.
Last week there was a pretty horrific and disturbing attack on a British serviceman in Woolwich, London, resulting in they young man, Lee Rigby, being killed by a bunch of knife wielding maniacs. The attack happened in the middle of the day and has caused massive shock due to it’s brutality and cruelty.
In the wake of the attack it’s been widely condemned and there have been several arrests in connection with it.
Rather admirably, there’s been fresh support for the Help for Heroes charity, with many giving to honour the memory of Rigby, who was apparently wearing one of the charity’s t-shirts at the time of the attack. It’s been nice to see the support given to the charity and the messages of sympathy and support sent to the family of the victim.
Sadly, the attack has also been seized upon by less admirable elements of British society, most notably the right wing organization the English Defence League (EDL) who have used it as an excuse to march around spouting off their vile, racist views.
The leader of the EDL, Tommy Robinson decided that he would walk through London and lay a wreath at the sight of the attack, and began taking sponsorship, intending to donate to the Help for Heroes fund.
The charity has stated it will not accept the cash. Which is rather nice. It’s apparently policy not to receive from political parties, but the EDL aren’t really a political party. They don’t run in elections or anything like that, but they are politically motivated even if it is the lowest and most loathsome type of politics.
I’m rather glad the charity has refused the cash, thus stopping the EDL to look like good guys, which they are most definitely not. They are racist thugs and frankly, the charity should do more and come out and condemn them, especially as some of the members waved the charity’s banners at a recent march.
Help for Heroes should come out and categorically distance themselves from these fascist scumbags, making it abundantly clear that they have no ties and do not endorse them in any way. The very values these people push are exactly the ones that some 70 years ago this country rallied to oppose. They marched near the cenotaph and one can’t help but feel that the men honoured by that monument would be disgusted by them.
So, well done Help for Heroes for refusing the money. And let us hope that cooler heads prevail and we don’t see a lurch towards the kind of close minded, thuggish attitude displayed by the EDL.
Jeremy Clarkson, the TV host and journalist, labelled the attackers “deranged lunatics” and that is what they are. A knee jerk attack on the Islamic community is foolish and wrong. These men don’t speak for them, or reflect the majority of that group, and lashing out at them will not avenge or honour Rigby’s death or deter further nutters from using the religion to justify their barbarism, it will merely make more divisions in society, and what we need now is to pull together against any who try to split us, be they these insane extremists or racist thugs like the EDL.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.