Following on from my report launch into the female military experience last week, it was a pleasure to visit Forward Assist and Salute Her UK, of which I am a Patron, to see first-hand the excellent work they do supporting women who have served in our Armed Forces. I have worked closely with Paula Edwards, who leads Salute Her UK, over the last year so it was brilliant to finally be able to visit the centre. During the inquiry and Paula gave evidence to the Defence Select Committee, providing valuable evidence about life for female service leavers, and specifically the lasting impact that Military Sexual Trauma (MST) has on a female veteran.
Salute Her are the only tri-service charity in the UK which focuses solely on women, providing a gender specific support service, and are part of the larger charity, Forward Assist, which itself helps veterans across the UK through research, education, advocacy and support projects. Salute Her assists women who have served in the Armed Forces, focusing on the physical, emotional and social aspects of life whilst advocating for, empowering and educating women. Their projects include their 'Women Veterans Task Force', the 'Women Veterans Research Collaborative' and the 'Military Sexual Trauma Group'.
During the visit, I took part in a virtual meeting with women who access Salute Her UK services from all over the UK and some even further afield. We discussed their military and veteran experiences, the essential support provided by Salute Her UK and the detail of the report and recommendations that we made to the Ministry of Defence. After hearing their emotional stories in person, coupled with the 4200 other military women who contributed, I am extremely proud of the work of the Committee, which has allowed these women a platform for the first time. I hope we can make changes for future generations of our Armed Forces.
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