Why do I feel so bad about poppies this year? 

Why will I not wear one and why does that bother me so much?

I was brought up to respect veterans and current service people.  My grandfather was at Gallipoli and had his leg shattered in World War One.  My own father served in the Royal Navy in World War Two and thereafter. 

As a small child, I used to hear the sound of the Remembrance parade and it stopped outside our church for parishoners to join it heading towards the park and the War Memorial.

I remember the wonderful day when it was judged that my legs were long enough to manage the walk and how I stood with my Dad so proudly wearing my Grandfather’s medals.  It became a ritual for us every year, me and Dad standing together.

Social life revolved rounds things like the RAFA club as Dad had served on aircraft carriers so had a RAF connection too.

I went on to marry a man who served in the Royal Air Force.

Last year, I insisted that we attend the Memorial Service in our town as a tribute to all veterans but particularly my late father.  I spoke to my children passionately about how much this mattered.

I remember my pride when my husband started working for the Royal British Legion.  An organisation that respected others and that cared about the welfare of service and former service people and their families.

After years of loyal service the Legion got rid of my husband.  There are changes afoot in the charity and instead of training up existing and loyal staff for new roles, a fair number were made redundant and put on the scrapheap.

Redundancy is tough to take.  How can a welfare officer be redundant as in not needed when we have involvement in current conflicts and an ageing population including veterans with increasing needs?  And why are new staff being recruited at the very same time as my ex-service husband and others  are being tossed aside?

It is interesting how little the Legion are saying about this in public and via their media channels.

We are struggling.  My husband had so much faith in and commitment to the Legion so his self-confidence and trust in others has taken a big blow.  Unemployment is not fun and he is no longer a young man so may struggle to find a new role.  That does not mean that he does not have a young family to support.

And that welfare charity, how have they supported us through this?

His boss made it difficult for him to attend interviews before he left work.

The Legion are saying they will only confirm periods of employment and not let local bosses give references.  They make it feel like this was a case of misconduct when it was anything but (not on our side anyway)

We had a redundancy payment as the law insists.

We have had not one phone call, email or letter asking how we are doing as an ex-forces family.  You know, the ones they purport to care about.

So I can’t find it in my heart to buy or wear a poppy this year.

That does not make me feel comfortable.  In fact, it breaks my heart a little.

The unemployment situation may be resolved in the short or longer-term.

I am not sure I will ever feel the same way about the poppy and the Royal British Legion again.  And that makes me sad.

 

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