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Allan Benson
(@thenikonbloke)
New Member
Joined:11 months  ago
Posts: 2
19/01/2018 10:01 am  

I listened to your latest Podcast on YouTube, and I wanted to add my bit to the debate. I was recently a guest speaker on Radio 5 Live on the subject wearing both hats as a Veteran and a Photojournalist. The point I tried to make was that basically, it was a waste of valuable resources to advertise a problem that doesn't really exist. Let me explain. The theme of the adverts was to highlight acceptance and diversity in the Armed Forces generally, and the Army specifically. Two sets of adverts were broadcast, one was an 'animation' style advert of 41 seconds, the second being a video (approx. same length) on the same theme. The animation had alleged serving personnel relating their experiences, and more pointedly the lack of discrimination, which they half expected, but never met. Surely this contradicts the supposed message, they expected discrimination based on colour, race, sexuality or gender, and it didn't occur. To my mind the adverts are, as I intimated before, highlighting a problem that really doesn't exist.

Lets highlight one of the five 'discriminations', by way of an example. When I joined the RAF in 1975, being gay was illegal and was a sure fire way of (a) not being able to join, or if you got in, (b) led to an almost instant discharge.

I recall the Recruiting Officer asking me directly "Do you have a girlfriend?" I happened to have a girlfriend at the time so naturally I answered yes. It was only afterwards that it dawned on me he was checking out if I was gay or not, in a not particularly subtle way!

I am sure I served in both the RAF and later in the Army with gay people, although I wasn't particularly aware of it at the time - not that it made any difference to me if they were, as long as they could do the job of soldiering, I could rely on them in both the conflict arenas I served in, and their sexuality didn't impact upon me personally. Quite frankly, I couldn't have cared less.

Times have changed, and it has been illegal to discriminate on the grounds of sexual preference for over 18 years. The Armed Forces actively encourages participation in events such as Gay Pride, with personnel allowed to wear their uniform. The Royal Navy even has a recruitment event at Gay Pride, and has done for some years. So, if the gay community are fully aware that the Armed Forces no longer permits (and actively discourages) discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, why make an issue out of it and spending £1.6 million of tax payers cash to highlight an issue that simply does not exist?

Personally, I think the Armed Forces recruitment drive along these lines are missing the target by a country mile. The problem isn't necessarily attracting young people to join the AF, it's the ridiculous amount of time it takes the out-sourced recruiting procedures (currently Capita) to process a potential recruit from initial contact to start of basic training. I frequently hear stories of 12-18 months from initial contact to start of training, with delays caused by lost documents, missed appointments due to 'lost' letters, multiple medical examinations due to GP inefficiency, and a breathtaking ineptitude and lack of communication between Capita and the potential recruit.

Capita, took over recruitment in 2012. Regular soldier application numbered around 70,000 in 2011/12, once Capita took over this figure plummeted to around 45,000 in 2012/13 and has remained more or less at the same level ever since.

To quote from the report by Mark Francois MP entitled 'Filling The Ranks': “At a time when the Armed Forces are crying out for recruits they have to cope with a medical system which appears bureaucratic, inflexible and which often does not demonstrate sufficient attention to individual circumstances and medical histories. This system as it currently exists, is one of the most important barriers to achieving the recruitment targets which the Services have been set – and is almost entirely self imposed.”


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Jamie R Kennedy
(@jamie-r-kennedy)
Founder & Co-Director at Veterans Network Admin
Joined:1 year  ago
Posts: 33
20/01/2018 7:04 am  

Hi Allan, thank you for taking the time to listen to our recent podcast about the recent topics affecting the Veteran community and our Armed Forces, we appreciate your time and support.

"The adverts are, as I intimated before, highlighting a problem that really doesn't exist".

We have to agree with you Allan, in our opinion as fellow Veterans who have served can vouch for there never being an issue of any discrimination at all, as discussed in the podcast.

We can't argue against any of your points raised to be honest Allan, in fact, you've hit the nail on the head with most points.

Would you mind if we shared the link to this thread on our social media to share your views with our fellow Veterans and the public?

Jamie R Kennedy


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Allan Benson
(@thenikonbloke)
New Member
Joined:11 months  ago
Posts: 2
20/01/2018 7:40 am  

Good morning Jamie. Thanks for the reply, it's much appreciated. I have no problem with you sharing my post in any media outlet, including social media - fill your boots mate!


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Jamie R Kennedy
(@jamie-r-kennedy)
Founder & Co-Director at Veterans Network Admin
Joined:1 year  ago
Posts: 33
20/01/2018 8:34 am  

Thank you, Allan. We value your views and opinions and we believe you have raised some good points which many other Veterans will agree with. 

 

Thanks for investing your time in Veterans Network, we appreciate your support. 

 

Hope you have a great weekend. 

 

Jamie R Kennedy


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