I am delighted to hear that on 20 June Oxfordshire will become the first area in the country to launch the Community Covenant scheme.
I deeply regret that I cannot be in Oxford today as I would very much have liked to be at the launch to support you all in taking this important work forward. As an Oxfordshire MP I am very proud that this county is leading the way. I know that the people of Oxfordshire hold our Armed Forces in extremely high regard and I commend your initiative in being the first area to launch this scheme. I am delighted that Professor Hew Strachan, whose report last year started us on this road, will be able to join you.
The Coalition Government recently published a new Armed Forces Covenant setting out our obligations as a Government and as a country to our remarkable Armed Forces, our veterans and their families. I and the whole Government are committed to ensuring that this obligation is upheld. But the need to support our Armed Forces Community extends beyond central Government to the rest of society and often the most important steps are those that can be taken by those in Local Government and local communities.
The work that Oxfordshire County Council has already undertaken demonstrates the principles of the Community Covenant working in practice. Some very impressive steps have already been taken, not least the positive relationships that have been established between the Council and the local Service community. I am sure that these links will grow and flourish in the future.
Please accept my sincere thanks for the efforts you have made so far to support our Armed Forces and I wish you well as you take this vitally important initiative forward.