Yesterday we signed the Armed Forces Covenant, to mark our recognition of serving regular, reservist and veteran military staff and their families.
We were hosted for the day by 4th Battalion, The Mercian Regiment, in a show of appreciation for the charity’s pledge.
The Armed Forces Covenant pledges the charity’s commitment to recognising the skills and expertise of military members, their provision of support for mental wellbeing, and guarantee that any members on active deployment will not be penalised for absence on their return.
10-percent of the rescue team has served in the military, and the close bond of the team offers a familiar support network for them. Military skills have some cross-over with search & rescue work, and this commitment from the charity’s Trustees to formally recognise and support that is an exciting step.
In a perfect example of the crossover between the two bodies, Army Padre the Reverend Tim Flowers recently joined the charity to offer his services to any member in need of support or advice. Rescue team members can be exposed to potentially traumatic events, and the process of dealing with that is one which has been developed by the Military to good effect in recent years.
The charity is looking to further honour its pledge by working with The 1968 Foundation, a Telford-based organisation which houses homeless veterans. Foundation leader, Steve Wood, is working with the charity’s Trustees on ways to provide operational support during searches as a way of re-integrating veterans in to worthwhile work and a sense of pride.
Section 1: Principles Of The Armed Forces Covenant
We, West Mercia Search & Rescue, will endeavour in our business dealings to uphold the key principles of the Armed Forces Covenant, which are:
- no member of the Armed Forces Community should face disadvantage in the provision of public and commercial services compared to any other citizen
- in some circumstances special treatment may be appropriate especially for the injured or bereaved.
Section 2: Demonstrating our Commitment
2.1 West Mercia Search & Rescue recognises the value serving personnel, reservists, veterans and military families bring to our business. We will seek to uphold the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant, by:
- promoting the fact that we are an armed forces-friendly organisation;
- recognising relevant prior-learning and military experience when assessing operational search & rescue competencies;
- seeking to support our volunteers who choose to be members of the forces, and providing a fast-track back to operational status after periods of deployment;
- offering joint-training opportunities to our local cadet units, where possible;
- offering avenues to mental-health wellbeing and pastoral care for all members.
2.2 We will publicise these commitments through our literature and/or on our website, setting out how we will seek to honour them and inviting feedback from our members on how we are doing.