Supporting Families Of The Fallen

With the relatively high number of soldiers losing their lives in Afghanistan, there are more and more military families in the UK dealing with bereavement having lost a loved one in active service. Between 2001 and September 2010, 338 British lives were lost in Afghanistan, and the families of the fallen grow in number with each death.

Families of service men who are killed in action face a number of challenges in addition to their tragic loss; often having to move out of Army accommodation and finding themselves without an active support network. Anyone who has lost a loved one will know how impossible a situation that is to find oneself in – especially when small children are involved.

Throughout the UK there are several charities on both local and national levels that work to support bereaved military families in a variety of ways. This year the Royal British Legion started offering free legal support and advice to the families of the fallen, in addition to the financial and other support that they offer.

Veterans-UK is also a valuable resource for ex-servicemen as well as military families. They offer a support line alongside resources and links to other organisations that may be able to offer help.

Winston’s Wish is a UK charity that works with bereaved children from all walks of life – they have reported an increase in calls regarding military children, and offer a helpline which is accessible for young members of families of the fallen.

Regimental associations and charities are another point of call offering some support to families. Because they often have close relationships to the soldiers and families, and know about the challenges faced by each individual regiment, they are perfectly situated to provide in-community support.

All of these organisations are in need of financial backing, and initiatives like the new charity, Families of the Fallen, help to raise the money that these organisations use to support bereaved military families. Ordinary people across the UK can be thanked for the donations they have offered and continue to offer – even during the tough financial times of recent years. Our generosity as a nation shines through.

With uncertainly around how long the British involvement in Afghanistan is set to continue, the number of families in need of support is only likely to grow in the future – so a joint effort and collaborative community approach to supporting the families of the fallen is needed.

However opposed anyone may be to the reasons behind going to war or the fact of our continued presence in the region, there are very few who can deny that we have, as a society, a duty of care to those who are in need – and that the bereaved families of soldiers killed in action most certainly need all the support, both financial and otherwise, that we can afford to give. As a nation we can do a lot to support families of the fallen, providing them with better accommodation, opportunities and the support they need.