For the last four years I have participated in the Parliamentary Armed Forces scheme, writes John Mann, MP for Bassetlaw.
I concluded the tri-service this week at Edinburgh Castle, with the firing of the one o’clock gun alongside the Royal Artillery.
I was accompanied by Mark Swann who is about to take his new commission as Commanding Officer of the 3rd Parachute Regiment.
It was a poignant place to end as generations of my family served in the British army in Scotland and in particular in the Royal Artillery.
My grandfather died in an old soldiers hostel, on Cannongate down from the castle in the most appalling poverty.
One great change today is that we have begun to treat old soldiers properly, though more is certainly needed to be done.
There are some politicians who would cut our armed services and leave NATO.
I will never, ever vote for either.
The same politicians talk of human rights but, of course without our armed services, we would have no human rights.
This has come at a cost, obviously in lost lives, but also in other ways.
My grandfather ended with a drink problem which meant that my family were unable to continue to care for him as he grew older.
My great uncle killed a man aged 17 in hand-to-hand combat in Burma and then saw his entire platoon wiped out.
He never fully recovered.
My 60 days away with our armed services has been exhilarating and exhausting but it has also been incredibly informative.
I have made a proposal to Government on infantry training which I have been asked to present at a senior level.
I have flown in fast jets, slept in officers messes and been put in the field. I even beat Col Bob Stewart on the firing range, ending as top MP marksman.
But most of all I have met and listened to many hundreds of our military, of all ranks, and used the information they have given me to pressure Government.
To them, and those I didn’t have the honour to meet, I say thank you.
They can always count on my support in Parliament.