'Fighting for the votes of Army wives'
A major article for BBC News (30 Apr 2010) reports that for the families of servicemen and women, the war in Afghanistan casts a long shadow over their lives - and how they will cast their vote.
Hayley Merrigan's Army flat in Germany where she lives with her gunner partner and 15-month-old daughter is just "old and needs updating".
But when the 21-year-old lived on the Wiltshire base at Larkhill, her flat was "horrible". "The previous paint colours came through the walls and the kitchen was damp. It was no place for a baby."
Both Labour and the Lib Dems have pledged to boost spending on modernising the Ministry of Defence's housing stock. Hayley's appeal to the party leaders is to also build more homes for forces families.
"And make them affordable. They're sticking people with children in flats. It's not a good way to live."
... Moving so frequently to new postings plays havoc with children's schooling.
"I found out I was moving in July and had to find places in new schools for September," said one mother.
No mention from the politicians on schooling for Army offspring, but Labour has pledged to keep NHS waiting list places if patients are moved to another area.
The Conservatives have promised more monitoring of the mental health of soldiers after they leave the services.
Lisa Trower, 36, whose husband is a staff sergeant, says Labour "could have done a lot more" for injured servicemen and women.
"A lot of soldiers do charity work for the soldiers who are injured - that help should come from the government.
"We've got a friend who was injured in Afghanistan. He broke his back and neck and has just started to walk. That was two years ago and he still hasn't had his lump sum.
"I worry what might happen to my husband."
The Tories have also promised university scholarships for the children of those personnel killed in action.
With British deaths in Afghanistan close to 300, it is a reality all these wives have to face.
Wearing a wristband supporting the charity Help For Heroes, Rachel Thackray, whose husband is in the Signals, says: "All we want really, is that they all come home alive, and none of the politicians can promise that."
- Full article by Lisa Mitchell, BBC News: Fighting for the votes of army wives
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