Remembrance for the Fallen begins 11am today with calls for ‘duty of care’ for Armed Forces veterans

PUBLISHED: 11:00 11 November 2016 | UPDATED: 12:02 11 November 2016

Trinity Square on this year's Merchant Navy Day, September 3, 2016

Trinity Square on this year's Merchant Navy Day, September 3, 2016


Today at 11am, November 11, the nation marks the moment when the guns fell silent in 1918 to end the Great War with a London Remembrance service at City Hall this-morning, while preparations are also under way for services to remember the Fallen being held this Sunday throughout the United Kingdom.

Rushanara Ali at a Commons debate in 2015Rushanara Ali at a Commons debate in 2015

But what of those of the Armed Forces who have survived conflicts since then? East London MP Rushanara Ali has pressed the Government on its “duty of care” for the mental health of military veterans for this year’s Poppy Appeal.

There are five million veterans in Britain, according to the Mental Health Foundation, and another 20,000 personnel who leave the Armed Forces each year.

Their health care transfers from the military to the NHS when they leave the Services. But only half of those experiencing mental health problems actually seek help, the foundation estimates.

Honouring the Dead at the 2016 Merchant Navy memorial day serviceHonouring the Dead at the 2016 Merchant Navy memorial day service

Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara pressed Defence Minister Mark Lancaster in the Commons earlier in the week to “make sure veterans actually receive treatment”.

She asked the Minister: “What monitoring is being done, given the fragmentation in the Health Service, to make sure that veterans actually receive the treatment that they require? The Armed Forces covenant makes it clear that veterans have distinct health needs and should receive priority treatment.”

Common problems veterans face include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, anxiety and substance abuse which leads to a higher risk of social exclusion, homelessness and suicide. Rushanara is urging more to be done to help them.

Trinity Square Remembrance Sunday, 2015Trinity Square Remembrance Sunday, 2015

She later told the East London Advertiser: “Many veterans suffer tremendous mental health problems and the government must ensure that the NHS is doing all it can to offer them the professional help they need and deserve.”

She is attending today’s Annual Service of Remembrance at City Hall as well as attending a service on Sunday in her own East London constituency.

The main Remembrance Sunday service for the East End is at Trinity Square Gardens at Tower Hill, attended by Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs. The Last Post is to be sounded with two minutes’ silence at 11am, to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 when the guns fell silent in The Great War.

Merchant Navy Day, Tower Hill, 2016Merchant Navy Day, Tower Hill, 2016

Other services in the East End on Sunday morning are at Bethnal Green Gardens, Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park in Mile End and Christ Church in Cubitt Town, on the Isle of Dogs.

Meanwhile, the first ‘Remembrance art trail’ in Britain has been unveiled at East London’s Canary Wharf as part of this year’s Poppy Appeal.

The seven art installations by award-winning artist Mark Humphrey were revealed on Tuesday at prominent points in Canary Wharf.

Cockney Pearly King at planting of poppies, Tower of London, 2014, marking 100th anniversary of outbreak of Great War [photo: Richard Lea-Hair]Cockney Pearly King at planting of poppies, Tower of London, 2014, marking 100th anniversary of outbreak of Great War [photo: Richard Lea-Hair]

“My idea for the ‘Remembrance trail’ is to engage the public by capturing the emotion of the Armed Forces,” Mark explains.

“The artworks use military engineering, materials and equipment designed for reflection, awareness and fundraising—all paying respect to our servicemen and women.”

Each artwork has a different focus on the theme of military experience to tell a visual story of the sacrifice and service by the armed forces. The pieces use material from military sources and use military manufacturing techniques.

Remember the poppiesRemember the poppies

Canary Wharf Group’s Matt Maer, one of several former servicemen employed by the company, said: “We decided this year to do something on a larger scale to pay tribute to the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces.

“Several people at Canary Wharf Group have served in the forces—around 65 per cent of our security staff are former servicemen.”

The Royal British Legion is asking supporters this year to “Rethink Remembrance” in recognition of the sacrifices made by today’s generation, as well as those of the past.

The first Poppy Appeal was held in 1921, the founding year of The British Legion. Red silk poppies, inspired by the famous First World War poem In Flanders Fields sold out instantly and raised £106,000. The funds helped veterans of the 1914-18 Great War find employment and housing “fit for heroes”.

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