The role and effectiveness of the military covenant has been debated in parliament for the first time.
The military covenant - also known as the armed forces covenant - was publically introduced in 2000, setting out the mutual obligations between the nation and its armed forces.
However, it is not enshrined in law; the Guardian describes it as “an informal understanding, rather than a legally enforceable deal, but [which] is nevertheless treated with great seriousness within the services".
The covenant addresses issues that affect serving personnel, forces leavers and their families, and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) produces an annual update on how the commitments of the covenant are being met, but this year marks the first time that the report has been debated in the house of commons.
Many of the issues faced by serving and ex-military personnel, including access to healthcare and mental health services and finding civilian employment were raised during the debate.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, chair of the new all-party parliamentary group on the armed forces covenant, said: “I want our whole nation to think about the covenant in their daily lives. I hope that colleagues from all corners of the UK and of every political colour will join us in building a nation that has at its heart, in every sphere of our lives, a deep understanding and practice of the moral obligation to our armed forces.
“We are free to live our lives as we wish in this great nation of ours thanks to the unstinting and total commitment of all those military personnel who stood and who stand ready to defend us now in the face of dangers, so many as yet unknown.”
Defence Minister Mark Lancaster told MPs the MoD would focus on identifying areas in which the covenant was not working properly, and would work to create a mechanism that would ensure a uniformity of service in 2016.