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Ed Miliband: Returning troops should be treated with dignity

Labour leader Ed Miliband meets British soldiers at Camp Bastion pictured in 2012. Photo: PA

Labour leader Ed Miliband's blog to mark Armed Forces Day, featured on the Labour Party website.

Today, we pay tribute to Britain's Armed Forces: those who serve now, those who have served in the past and their family and friends.

Armed Forces Day is our chance to recognise the contribution our servicemen and women make to our country.

And this year, Armed Forces Day will be the last one before our troops end their combat mission in Afghanistan.

We should never forget those served and sacrificed helping to protect the people of Afghanistan and the people of Britain. We owe it to them not to let the heroism and bravery of our Armed Forces be forgotten once Afghanistan has dropped from the headlines.

As I said when I visited Camp Bastion recently, the Labour Party is committed to recognising the unique place of the Armed Forces in our society. It's shocking to think that there are still many members of our Armed Forces who face discrimination as they go about their daily lives.

Our brave servicemen and women deserve to be treated with respect. It’s sad to think that those who fight for our country might need the protection of our laws, but some do.

Labour leader Ed Miliband meets British soldiers at Camp Bastion pictured in 2012. Credit: PA

That is why a Labour government will make it a specific criminal offence to assault a member of the Armed Forces and outlaw discrimination against service personnel and veterans.

Men and women in the Army, Navy and RAF serve us with dignity and bravery. It is our duty to ensure they are treated with dignity in return.

This year’s Armed Forces Day celebrations will take place in Stirling later today. As we approach a referendum, it is important to recognise the indispensable role Scotland has played in the British Armed Forces and that Scots have served with the utmost distinction.

We stood together to defeat Nazism during the Second World War.

Many - including my father who served in the Royal Navy in Fife - fought alongside men and woman from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

So today as I stand at the Armed Forces Day celebrations, I will be deeply proud of the role my father played during the Second World War but also proud of the role that our Armed Forces have played and continue to play in our society.