By Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region
Armed Forces Day represents an opportunity for the British public to recognise the dedication, professionalism and commitment of our service men and women. It is important because it affords us a moment to say thank you and celebrate the notion of service.
The inaugural event was held in 2006 – an initiative based on the idea of dedicating a day in the calendar to pay tribute to our troops, their families, reservists, veterans and cadets.
The environment in which our Armed Forces are operating today has significantly changed since then. The military no longer occupies the headlines in the same way it did during the height of the Afghan and Iraq conflicts. But it is just as important to champion those who serve.
I am proud of those who serve in the Armed Forces. The decision to serve in the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force is a life-changing commitment.
It means that you are not simply choosing a job but a way of life. A way of life that demands courage, discipline, self-commitment, integrity, respect and loyalty. You may find yourself in harm’s way, confronted with the most challenging situations imaginable, and separated from your family and friends and the comforts of home.
The time I spent in the military was challenging but rewarding and formed some of the most important experiences of my life. It taught me that leadership was a responsibility, not a position that automatically comes with rank.
Most service leavers go on to achieve great things in civilian life using the invaluable experience and skills gained in the military. Yet we cannot shy away from the reality that too many of our veterans in this country find themselves without a home or job and disenfranchised from society. A century on from the promise of a country fit for heroes we still do not recognise our service men and women in a manner that befits their sacrifice.
It is vital that we not only value and honour their service but also celebrate the principle of service itself. On Armed Forces Day, I’ll be joining millions of people up and down the country and saying thank you. We are forever grateful you chose to serve.
There are many ways to get involved. Find an event near you here