The veteran population of the UK is declining rapidly. In 2005, there were 4.8million veterans in the UK. Today, there are 2.83million, and in 2020 there will be 2.48million. In the face of such significant demographic change, the Armed Forces charity sector will have to evolve in some fundamental ways.
Horticultural therapy is a proven way of helping people with a range of mental health problems and it uses gardening to meet specific therapeutic or rehabilitative goals. In Gardening Leave's case, we help the men and women who serve our country, specifically the 20% of Armed Forces veterans who face a mental health issue.
Every day should be Remembrance Day. We should treat our war veterans with respect all year round, honour the military covenant and make sure that those injured or psychologically scarred in the line of duty get the care and medical treatment they deserve. My Party has views on how that should best be achieved, but this is not a time for partisan politics.
Strange things happen when you put your hand up and say you want to help Britain's combat Veterans secure civilian employment when they leave the Service. At short notice, and with little qualification other than this general willingness, I found myself sitting at a table with HRHs Prince William and Harry, a three star General and twenty international captains of industry...
Seventy-four years on, the heroism and sacrifice of these young men is the stuff of legend, romanticised and steeped in patriotism. So often portrayed with the iconic RAF moustache, the majority were probably too young to even have a moustache. Who were these men? How do they remember the Battle of Britain and what became of those who survived the years of war? What happened when they stopped being pilots, stepping out of uniform and back into civilian life?
We remembered too not just those from the First World War, but all wars past and present including those serving right now in Afghanistan and other Operations around the world. And, of course, it's not just the soldiers themselves but the families that give their all in support of those brave men and women.
Is Bergdahl a deserter? A traitor? Is he, as some critics in the US have implausibly suggested, a real-life incarnation of Nicholas Brody of the TV series Homeland, a captured US serviceman who may have switched sides? Or is he one more casualty of war, a man whose wounds can't be seen but are real nonetheless? It's perfectly possible, of course, to be both.
Remembrance Sunday was a time to reflect for veterans on lost comrades in arms, for family and friends to recall loved ones to mind and for all to honour the service past and present of armed forces throughout the Commonwealth. Gradually humanists are being allowed to take part in services, though this is still far from the norm.
Wearing a poppy is not a comment on politics or military intervention. I doubt that everyone who wears a poppy agrees with all aspects of British foreign and military policy dating back to the first ever Poppy Day in 1921. If you object to British foreign policy, about the worst way you could express that is in a decision not to wear a poppy, because that decision only impacts on some of those who face consequences of the policy - whether or not they agree with it - not on those of us who are actually responsible for the decisions.
The students of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut resumed classes on January 3, less than a month after the massacre that killed 20 of their fellow students and six staff members. At the newly refurbished school in a neighbouring town, administrators prepared for the students' return with stuffed toys, on-site counsellors, and a team of friendly, bouncing golden retrievers.