The Association Chairman's Page
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Brig MacMillan


My periodic message on this website is timely in that we are seeing all sorts of things unfolding around us. So I will start with Afghanistan. The time has come for the country to provide succour to Afghani refugees and asylum seekers, so I am sure our Branches will do what they can to assist locally if the opportunity and need arises. As we have pulled out of Afghanistan after 20 years, it is right and proper to reflect on what has happened during those years. There has been much expenditure of blood and treasure during the campaign and for every life lost, as in all campaigns, there have been 3-4 others wounded. All these events have caused grief and mental anguish for relatives and friends. It is for all these, survivors and dependents, that our veteran network of Associations exists.

I shall not pass comment on the strategic measurement and consequences of the campaign but will opine on our part in it, the RAMC. Through time immemorial, medical services have followed and served the Army, win, lose or draw, and played their support part as non-combatants. If we have been successful in curtailing the effects of the local environment and our Generals have got the better of the enemy, then we have had relatively few diseases to cure and wounds to heal but, of course, the converse has also been true. Regardless, the medical services have to meet the tas they have been confronted. It is fair to say, whatever your judgment on the campaign, that they have excelled themselves to such an extent that health and healthcare for deployed troops has risen to a level unsurpassed in history and so many unexpected survivors are still with us. With that has been an unprecedented requirement for rehabilitation and support. The current crop of serving RAMC personnel are rightly proud of their achievements and contribution to wider medical science. We veterans salute them and these.

It is a funny old thing but following such success, the next thing has been the Army’s desire to cut us down to size, dismember us and ignore the lessons of history. Déjà vu, there is nothing new in this as history just simply repeats itself ad nauseum. But when the bugle blows for the next campaign, the medical services will be there again, ready to pick up the pieces.

We have reached a critical point in the progress of the Covid pandemic. We are hovering on the cusp of a return to normality. The vaccine roll out has been a tremendous success but test and trace, designed pre-vaccine, is now appearing to hold back return to normality. The law of unintended consequences has reared its ugly head once more. Death and ill-health rates continue to diminish, it is high time we recognised that Covid is here to stay for ever and that we need to move on in the knowledge it is an endemic disease, like so many others, and we must cope and get on with our lives despite its presence. This will be facilitated by paying more attention to the real evidence accumulated as opposed to relying too much on modelling. Our extrapolations into the future must be far more refined and narrow now in the light of what has gone on for real. Then we might have some coherence in business, employment, travel, education and human interactions. We really need to see the bureaucracy get back to normal such as the Passport Office and Vehicle Licencing Agency

To that end, we are using RAMC Charity money to give our Branches a financial fillip, in order to assist a restart, through a grant. It is on its way. I am also looking to fund an annual Branch grant from next year onwards. In addition, we are about to see a new departure in communications around the Association. With the struggles the Medical Magazine has currently, we are about to issue our first quarterly electronic newsletter instead. I hope it becomes a regular feature. Ian Razzell, our Facebook Page coordinator, has taken on the task of editing this work.

Finally, I wish to inform the Association of my intention to stand down as your Chairman. I have formally tendered my resignation to the Chairman of the RAMC Charity and informed all our Branch Chairmen of this fact. However, I am not away yet, as the Charity needs to find a replacement and the Association still requires leadership in the interim. I shall not bore you with the reasons for my decision, they are an amalgam of personal and family matters, but would simply wish to state that since I was first given an Army number in 1967, and first wore the RAMC cap badge in 1970, this tour as your Chairman has been the most satisfying and important one in the 50+ years since then. It has been a great privilege to have served you and I am sure the Association, long after me, will go on meeting the needs of those serving, those retired and their dependents in the RAMC family as well flying the flag for our unique and fascinating heritage.

In Arduis Fidelis,
Alistair Macmillan
12 April 2021

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