On the 9th December 2020, the Advisory Military Sub-Committee announced that they had not recommended the award of a medal to the British Nuclear Test Veterans because they the operation had not met the criteria for a medal.
But what criteria were they referring to?
In 2019, drone operators were given medals as the criteria for the award of a medal was extended by the Queen, she approved an extension of the eligibility criteria medal to include personnel operating outside "the traditional area of operations". The medals recognised what military personnel go through "psychologically, visually and emotionally" while operating Reaper drones.
What could be worse than watching the deadliest of man's creations and suffering for over 60 years the psychological, physical and emotional effects of those tests?
Imagine you are a Nuclear Veteran
Sent under order (many as national servicemen) to be exposed to a Nuclear Explosion as a fit, healthy young man. Returning after experiencing a terrifying explosion.
Watching you wife give birth to deformed or dead children, experiencing miscarriages and for some the inability to have children.
Watching you children suffer with illness, suffering multiple issues yourself, cancers and other diseases. Each time a grandchild is born, asking if it is healthy.
Watching your colleagues die at very early ages. Wondering if it was all connected to your test participation.
Fining out that Public Health England has 'tagged' your records for monitoring purposes since 1983, tracking mortality and cancer rates amongst the participants.
Campaigning for recognition from the UK government, watching as other countries accept responsibility, pay compensation (including the UK to other countries), whilst you are forgotten, not recognised. The only recognition you receive is the standard response from the Government to any letter:
"The UK government continues to recognise the Nuclear Veterans. Theirs has been a valuable contribution towards a nuclear deterrent that has ultimately kept Britain safe for decades"
In 2014, the then Prime Minister, David Cameron told Parliament:
"I'm happy to tell the House that this Government absolutely recognises and is extremely grateful to all the service personnel who participated in the nuclear testing programme. We should be in no doubt that their selfless contribution actually helped to make sure the UK is equipped with the deterrent that we need."
Yet 6 years later, the denial of any medallic recognition continues, not even an extension to the General Service Medal with a clasp, recognising the location of the test. Nothing.
What makes this whole situation even worse is that in 2002, the New Zealand special service medal (nuclear testing) was instituted by Queen Elizabeth II. It was one of several medals for military personnel involved in special operations not usually recognised by a campaign medal.
These New Zealand service personnel stood side by side UK service personnel and have been formally recognised by the Queen, yet ours have not, due to the nameless, faceless watchers that parade the carpeted corridors of Whitehall.
So were the AMSC committee working on the new criteria, which was extended for drone pilots and did they consider the application as per the application for drone pilots?
The meetings were held in secret. Freedom of Information requests have now been sent, requesting the minutes of the meetings.
One thing we do know if that at no point were any nuclear veterans asked to provide any testimony to the committee, yet the Ministry of Defence were asked to provide representation at the meetings.
We have asked Johnny Mercer MP these questions and await his response. In the meantime, the fight continues for recognition for these servicemen.