This Annual Report reflects on a year of investment, as we continue to transform the Officers’ Association (OA), to remain alert to the needs of those who looked after us in military service, but also to look forwards across the landscape of the 21st century and anticipate the challenges of the future.
The anniversary of the Battle of the Somme this year was a poignant reminder of our roots as a charity; young officers, often rapidly promoted and thrown into action, returned from some of the most harrowing battlefields of the last century, and often quietly slipped back into society, with feelings of guilt for those they left behind. They were told that the best way to deal with it was not to talk it through, but there gradually became the recognition that active support was needed and hence the OA began. Some years ago now I found out, almost by mistake, that my neighbour had been on the front line at the Somme, aged 17. He shrugged his shoulders as he told me some of his memories and tried to control his shaking hands, admitting that he had done all he could but it was never enough to return most of his pals. As a 17 year old too at the time of that conversation, I walked away from his house with my own hands shaking.
We know who the OA are looking after; but we don’t necessarily know about the others, and continue to reach out to find them and offer them assistance if they need it. Social media and more connected communities allow us to make ourselves more available, and even the smallest amount of well-placed contact can make a huge difference. So it is vital to use these tools to reach across the digital world to offer a helping hand.