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The Armed Forces Covenant is a statement of the moral obligation which exists between the nation, the Government and the Armed Forces. It was published in May 2011 and its core principles were enshrined in law, for the first time, in the Armed Forces Act 2011. It applies to all three services.

The Covenant articulates the view that the nation has a moral obligation to members of the Armed Forces Community in return for the sacrifices they make. Specifically, the Covenant outlines two core principles:

  • No disadvantage: no current or former member of the armed forces, or their families, should be at a disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services.
  • Special consideration: special consideration is appropriate in some cases, particularly for those who have been injured or bereaved.

The Armed Forces Act 2011 does not create legally enforceable rights for Service personnel but it does require the Secretary of State for Defence to report to Parliament each year on the progress made with respect to the Covenant.

On 15 December 2016 the Government published its latest annual report on the Armed Forces Covenant. It highlights all of those areas where progress has been achieved over the last year and outlines some key priorities for the future, including the delivery of contracted veteran’s mental health services in England from 2017 and publishing the outcome of research into the support provided to the families of Reservists.

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