Last Thursday evening in the warm glow of the late afternoon, I was co-signatory to the Community Covenant, which is an agreement between West Sussex County Council and the military community.
The purpose is to encourage, at a local level, support for the armed forces community working and living in West Sussex. This includes veterans, reservists and the families of all who live or have lived in our county.
After the signing Brigadier Simon P Wolsey OBE, Regional Brigade Commander 2 (South East) Brigade, gave a short address. He said that for many people when the word veteran is mentioned, people think of an older person, while in reality it could be an 18-year-old who has lost both legs while on duty.
Whilst he stressed that it was not about being a special case, there is a need to acknowledge and help our service personnel. I personally believe that it is our moral obligation to help those who protect our country.
Whether aged 78 or 18, service personnel have served this country very well and made sacrifices. Many, as we see and hear on the news, include the ultimate price of their life, leaving families and friends devastated and grieving.
It’s not only about the physical disabilities which are visible, there are many accounts of Post Traumatic Stress and mental illness, which can take years to manifest and equally devastates lives.
When serving in the forces the personnel become part of a large military 'family' and they are supported within the regiment or squadron where there is strong camaraderie and friendships. However, on leaving the services that way of life changes and that in itself can be very challenging for people settling back in to civilian life.
It is for these reasons that I was extremely proud and delighted to be part of putting our name to this covenant and for this County Council to do all it can to help our brave men and women who have done so much for this country and the freedoms it represents.
Louise Goldsmith is leader of West Sussex County Council