Rant No longer wanted

John A Silkstone

Mi General
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Thousands of British troops who are injured or medically unfit are to be encouraged to leave the armed forces in an effort to improve efficiency, under plans being drawn up by ministers.

The Ministry of Defence is planning to target between 5,000 and 6,000 service personnel who are unable to work but remain on the payroll. An announcement on the scheme is to be made in the autumn.

However, senior military figures are concerned that the proposals are designed to ease out so-called “bed blockers” from the army without adequate compensation.

New figures released under the Freedom of Information act have disclosed that 2,812 British troops have now being admitted to hospital in Afghanistan. More than 800 troops have been wounded in action, around a third suffering serious injuries.

The Ministry of Defence admitted last week that 14.6 percent of the armed forces – 25,400 of the 174,000 service personnel – are unfit for combat duties. Amid growing pressure on the public finances, insiders have claimed that the growing bill for these people is hindering the recruitment of younger, fitter soldiers.

A senior officer in the department’s personnel department told The Sunday Times: “Up to now it has usually been possible to find odd jobs for these people. Now they are blocking the recruitment of young, fit soldiers and have to be medically discharged because no extra money can be found to pay them.”

Soldiers injured in combat receive compensation and a pension when leaving. They can also apply for up to £6,000 to spend on training and rehabilitation.”

Details of what the MoD will offer injured soldiers to leave the armed forces in future are still being worked out but senior military figures are concerned over the new strategy.

Colonel Bob Stewart, chairman of Action for Armed Forces, which represents wounded soldiers after they leave, said: “My concern is that this must be properly funded. I fully endorse this scheme if they really do give proper support for [the] long-term injured when they leave…at the moment it’s abysmal.”

However, the families of injured soldiers said that their sacrifices should be enough to guarantee their future employment in the military. Diane Dernie, the mother of Lance-Bombardier Ben Parkinson who lost his legs and suffered brain damage in a Taliban bomb blast, said: “These men have done enough to guarantee that if they want to stay and see out their career in the army then that should be open to them. These lads go in as very young men, it’s all they want.”

The Ministry of Defence insisted yesterday that they did not want to force injured troops from the military but offer them better opportunities elsewhere. Earlier this month, the Royal Marines established a new unit to rehabilitate injured or traumatised soldiers.

A spokeswoman said: “We are committed to working with our personnel to ensure they have a rewarding career; one which is beneficial to them personally and to the Armed Forces as a whole.

“This programme is not about forcing people to leave, it is there to provide the opportunities and support to our personnel so they can enjoy a fulfilling role within the military or beyond, taking into account their medical conditions.”
 
14.6% unfit for combat operations? Holy sh*t. Seems more like a retirement home than the military.
 
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