A new study, commissioned by Help for Heroes, found that 83% of adults think British soldiers and Veterans should have more support when they come back from service. Yet, despite the on-going sacrifices made by our Armed Forces, 76% think that Service personnel and Veterans are ‘forgotten about’ once they return home.
The survey also found that many believe just 55,000 troops served in Afghanistan, when actually 139,000 deployed during the course of the conflict. And almost 150,000 troops served as part of UK military operations in Iraq from 2003 to 2011 – three times the 41,000 most adults thought were deployed.
The survey also showed we significantly underestimate current deployments with the average adult believing the UK currently has troops posted to 19 countries.
In fact the Armed Forces are currently deployed to over 80 countries.
David Richmond, Head of Recovery at Help for Heroes, said: “The survey shows that people in the UK are significantly underestimating the commitment made by our Armed Forces in recent years. This makes it incredibly difficult for Veterans and those still serving to get the specialist support they sometimes need. Wounded, injured and sick Service personnel and Veterans especially need the public to understand the challenges they face and what we can do to support them.
”Without a better understanding among the public of the dangers facing our Armed Forces, Servicemen and women face a much greater challenge getting the support they might need.”
63% of people surveyed said that, since WWII, they struggle to understand what the UK’s war efforts have been in aid of. Furthermore just under 63% of adults felt they could not explain why the UK went to war in Afghanistan.
Nearly a quarter of respondents believe the UK originally went to war in Afghanistan to prevent weapons of mass destruction being used, while more than one in 10 think the UK entered the conflict in Afghanistan to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
An overwhelming 94% of people admit they haven’t heard of Operation Herrick, while 88% didn’t know that Operation Telic was the codename for UK military operations in Iraq.
Just over one in ten (11%) respondents were unsure whether the UK is currently at war with the European Union.
A third of those polled had no idea the Falklands War ended in 1982 while a fifth of people didn’t know Britain was involved in the Gulf War.
Richmond said “Despite the end of combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, British troops continue to deploy around the world.
“The public clearly think that more needs to be done to support our Armed Forces. It’s so important that the men and women who give so much remain in the public consciousness and aren’t forgotten.”
Help for Heroes offers comprehensive support to those who have suffered life-changing injuries and illnesses while serving our country. This support is provided through grants direct to our Heroes and their families, grants to other charities and through four Help for Heroes Recovery Centres across the UK. A recent study launched in January 2016 by Help for Heroes and King’s College London found of the 750,000 men and women who served as Regulars between 1991 and 2014, at least 66,000 need long term support.
See How we Help and Get Involved here.