Council approves plans to do more for ex-servicemen

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THE mother of injured paratrooper Ben Parkinson is backing Doncaster Council’s pledge to do more to support ex-servicemen and women who live in the town.

A community covenant will be signed with representatives from the military this month after the authority’s cabinet approved plans to provide former soldiers with support on practical issues including housing, health and education when they leave the Forces.

Ben Parkinson, of Bessacarr, lost both of his legs and suffered more than 30 injuries in a landmine blast while serving in Afghanistan in 2006.

His mum Diane Dernie welcomed the council’s decision.

She said: “This is marvellous news. It carries through everything we have come to expect in Doncaster.

“Doncaster really does care, there is a massive army tradition here and the servicemen coming back to Doncaster get the best treatment from both the people and the services than anywhere else in the country.

“Ben is thrilled to hear the news and wishes it was the same elsewhere in the country because unfortunately ex-servicemen down south don’t get the same kind of treatment that is on offer in Doncaster.”

The news follows an announcement in May by Defence Secretary Liam Fox that the Government would enshrine in law the military covenant.

It will commit to care for injured veterans who need prosthetic limbs and give personnel better access to cut-price public transport.

Mayor of Doncaster Peter Davies said: “Doncaster as a town is very much supportive of all the Armed Forces and what they do for our country

“I just think it’s important that anybody who has put their lives on the line in Afghanistan or Iraq is treated with some respect, or maybe even preferential treatment in finding employment or housing when they return.

“People’s attitudes towards the Armed Forces have changed considerably.

“Even with the Falklands War I don’t remember this sort of response to the problems these people faced.”

The Government has announced there will be a £30 million grant available over four years to fund community covenants, to take the work forward.