Joel James MS on the armed forces and the “fuel of the future”

LAST week we celebrated Armed Forces Week, which was a time for us to reflect and pay tribute to the incredible dedication of service men and women across the country.

I witnessed this dedication myself during one of my first visits as a member of the Senedd in 2021 to Maindy Barracks, where I visited reservists from the Third Battalion, The Royal Welsh Regiment.

I was moved and inspired by the dedication of soldiers and officers who juggle their commitments as reservists and their family and professional lives. Many of the soldiers I met had not been demobilized for a long time after helping to deal with the covid crisis; working alongside their regular counterparts, they have helped during the pandemic in all sorts of ways; from running isolation centers overseas to vaccinating members of the public at clinics across the UK.

Most recently, in April this year, I had the privilege of visiting the RAF Valley at Anglesey, where we celebrated the anniversary of the formation of the RAF, observed state-of-the-art aircraft and visited the world-class pilot training facilities they have. .

During these two visits, I was amazed by the sacrifice made by our armed forces in the service of the nation. With the ongoing war in Ukraine and the mobilization of thousands of British soldiers in Eastern Europe, it reminds us of the seriousness of the work undertaken by the men and women of our armed forces.

Armed Forces Week also gives us an opportunity to remember and celebrate our veterans. After having given so much in the service of the nation, we must bear in mind that the return to civilian life can be difficult for veterans, that many suffer from PTSD and disabilities as a result of combat and that they have need our support and care as much as any other part of society. The care and support of veterans is an issue that is particularly close to my heart. After completing my university studies, I volunteered as a social worker for the British Legion and experienced firsthand many of the complex issues facing our veterans and the specialist support they can need.

Last week I was delighted to be asked to speak in the Sunday News for BBC Radio Wales with Vaughan Roderick. It was a great opportunity to highlight some very important work the UK government is doing to help Wales, which is often overlooked because it’s seen as a bit of an “anorak”.

One of the stories I highlighted was the potential of hydrogen as the “fuel of the future” and its great ability to help create well-paying jobs and support industry. The UK government’s vision to kick-start our world-leading hydrogen economy is set to support over 9,000 jobs in the UK and unlock £4 billion by 2030, potentially up to 100,000 jobs and worth up to £13 billion by 2050. Wales would undoubtedly benefit if it can create the right conditions to encourage businesses to locate here.