Families dismiss plans for US-style parades

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The Independent Online

Attempts to get the British public behind the armed forces through US-style freedom parades and a dedicated armed forces' day have been dismissed as "window dressing" by the Army Families Federation, which accuses ministers of failing to lead by example.

In a bid to deflect attacks over its failure to honour the Military Covenant, the Government is to announce recommendations tomorrow such as encouraging service personnel to wear their uniforms in public and for army units to hold regular open days. Plans for a Purple Heart-style medal for those killed or injured in action have been dropped. Colonel Richard Kemp, a former head of British forces in Afghanistan, said the decision was a "huge mistake". Having such a medal "is the right thing to do and would be another way of bringing home to people the sacrifices that our soldiers make which are all too often forgotten," he added.

But Julie McCarthy, chief executive of the Army Families Federation, claims it is a distraction from the real issues: "Our Government needs to recognise what our forces do for them before the nation can be asked to do more. The forces need better investment in their accommodation, equipment, welfare, just about everything." She added: "I think the Government should take action to improve funding, rather than wasting time on a recognition study that is little more than window dressing."

This latest armed services controversy comes in the midst of an outcry prompted by a report in last week's IoS revealing the crisis of poverty-stricken soldiers, some of whom rely on food vouchers to eat. In response angry IoS readers attacked the Government for its "penny pinching."

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