Armed Forces Community Covenant officially launches in Northamptonshire to help 'the military family'
Town chiefs have launched plans to signpost personnel to council services and support and provide recognition and assistance for the armed forces community in Northampton.
The Armed Forces Community Covenant agreement - which officially launched on Thursday night involving 19 partners - aims to encourage local communities to support the Armed Forces community in their area and promote public understanding and awareness of issues affecting the Armed Forces personnel.
Armed forces community covenant partnership officer, Vikki Bar is a military wife. She has been married to her husband - who was a Signaler in the British Army - for five years.
She said: Our first posting together was in Cyprus. He got posted out there prior to our wedding so he had to get special permission to fly home, we got married and moved to Cyprus two days after. We had my daughter, Matilda while out there, which was hard being away from family when you are having a baby, especially my mum and sister who I am very close with. The first time my daughter came to the UK was when she was eight months old. "He was due to retire in 2015 but extended for two more years to give us change to move back from overseas. We lived on base in the UK but bought our house in Northants while he still serving so we lived married unaccompanied for a year, which was really hard only having him about at weekends.
Going forward, the project aims to develop the co-ordination of 'front line staff' training in local authorities and managing a website to help integrate the Armed Forces personnel into the community and civilian life in Northamptonshire.
There is also aims to create a focus group made up of serving personnel, veterans of all ages and family members of the Armed Forces community.
She added: "He retired in January, and we have been slowly adjusting to civilian life. My husband joined up at 17, so it is all new for him but we are settling in and now our daughter is in school we are both rebuilding our friendship and he joined a running club, which has been great for him socially."
Figures from the Royal British Legion in 2016 show there is currently about 66,000 ex-military in Northamptonshire with figures showing a staggering 243 ex-personnel, who used the Job Centre in just on one day last week.
The two year project, which has already been running for 18 months, obtained funding from the Ministry Of Defence covenant grants team and aims to recognise and remember the sacrifices made by the Armed Forces community.
Colonel John Wilson OBE, DL - RFCA East Midlands, MOD has had 16 different homes throughout his 27 years in service for the British Army and has spent most of his time in Germany.
He said: "The [military] family are those who are serving, those who are veterans, spouses, children, those who are bereaved, injured or sick so that people move into the county people can be signposted to get on the waiting list at the doctors, they can be signposted to schools.
"We are a very mobile in the military, some of us don't really have a home. So actually when you have a county where someone says, 'right okay, you're coming to join us,' you can go 'go to this website, which is fantastic and will signpost you to different things'.
"It's not about giving us unfair advantage, it's about fairness and what this is doing is trying to make everyone in Northamptonshire, particularly in the local authorities, aware of the military and the differences in we have in the way that we do our business. Because we can be sent away at any time to anywhere... it's actually the families that are left behind. If they are in Northamptonshire, is the school aware that the dad has gone away to Afghanistan for six months? Actually they might be suffering."