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MP backs better care for veterans

PUBLISHED: 12:43 03 June 2010 | UPDATED: 11:19 12 August 2010

AN MP and former UN commander called for better care for war veterans during his maiden speech in the House of Commons.

AN MP and former UN commander called for better care for war veterans during his maiden speech in the House of Commons.

Beckenham MP Bob Stewart (pictured) said soldiers should have support for their entire lives after returning from conflicts.

The colonel, who was nicknamed 'Bosnia Bob' during his reign as British UN commander, made the comments during his first speech in the House last Wednesday.

Mr Stewart said: "Veterans who have given so much for our country deserve to be well looked after.

"We have a problem at the moment where we have superb facilities for soldiers who are still in the army but once they get discharged they become the responsibility of the NHS until they die.

"The NHS can look after them if they have the resources but they are under extreme pressure."

Mr Stewart spoke about the Droppin Well bombing in Ballykelly, Northern Ireland 28 years ago where 17 people were killed, including six of his men. He said: "Six of my men lost their lives. One lost his legs and another is paraplegic. They have not had good lives, they have no money.

"You can't ever make up for the fact that someone can't have children or someone that was active and loved sport has to spend their life on crutches or in a wheelchair."

Mr Stewart said more needed to be done to help veterans in terms of converting their houses to make them more accessible and that they need more financial and health support.

Maiden speeches are traditionally short, uncontroversial and complimentary to the predecessor and the constituency.

Mr Stewart said afterwards: "I am used to speaking in public, but I have to admit I was nervous, it is quite daunting to stand up in the House when everyone is silent and nobody is heckling you.

"I spoke about the size of the constituency and said that the people of Beckenham had welcomed me with open arms."

This is the largest number of new MPs since the Second World War and Mr Stewart is yet to be assigned an office.

He described life as a new MP "hectic but enjoyable".

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