Three years ago, I stood in this room, proudly launching Walking with the Wounded’s Walk on Britain. Previous expeditions had taken the teams to the North Pole, Everest, and Antarctica — arguably three of the most beautiful places on this planet, yet three of the most treacherous.
From walking frozen sea, to pulling a sled at two and a half thousand meters high, to suffering altitude sickness while dodging rock falls…you wouldn’t believe what these incredible men and women were challenged with, post-injury, and in complete isolation.
This is what made Walk on Britain distinct. Although the physical challenge was every bit as demanding on the team as previous expeditions, it could not have been more different.
The six veterans who walked the length and breadth of the country were greeted by extraordinary welcomes everywhere they went – and the warmth of this support was symbolic of the public recognition of our Armed Forces.
Two American veterans took part in the Walk on Britain and were celebrated just as those from the UK. Our nations, and in particular our Armed Forces, share a special bond. We have learned a great deal from each other about caring for our veterans, but together and separately we continue to face challenges.
I have always felt that the experiences we share in conflict provide a stronger support system in recovery – this is especially true of our trans-Atlantic partnership. There is much more that we can learn from one another and in doing so, we hope to improve support now and into the future.
The expedition we are launching today, Walking With The Wounded’s 2018 Walk of America, reinforces that bond.
This connection between these remarkable men and women, who, despite injury, continue to look to the future, and those who have resolutely supported them, is so very different.
I have no doubt that everyone along the route and beyond will use this as an opportunity to support the Armed Forces, to check in and offer to be there for them, if ever they need it.
While not all of those who serve will face personal challenges, it is our duty to be there for those who do. This walk will not just highlight the issues that some service personnel and their families face, it’s also a celebration of everyone who serves in uniform – and all they do for our countries and their own communities. This walk will act as a reminder of that.
I know that everyone working in this space, on both sides of the Atlantic, remain absolutely committed to doing everything we can to improving the quality and access to appropriate care for our Armed Forces families. This expedition is yet another opportunity to take that collaboration forward.
I wish the team every success for the forthcoming challenge, make the most of it, I know it will be as rewarding as it is testing.