MILLIONS of armed forces veterans should be honoured with a military service medal, an SNP MP has insisted.

Kirsten Oswald, who is her party’s spokeswoman on the armed forces and veterans, will raise the issue during a Commons debate on April 12 when MPs return from their Easter recess.

Veterans’ groups and campaigners have highlighted how significant numbers of veterans, including many who have undertaken dangerous and challenging deployments, are not currently awarded a medal because their service has not been undertaken in conflict.

Thus far, the Ministry of Defence's argument has been that awarding a medal simply for serving in the Armed Forces would “devalue” the system even though one operates in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Some officials also fear the costs could be prohibitive at a time of budget cuts at the MoD.

In the last parliament , the then veterans minister Andrew Robathan MP told MPs as many as four million people might be eligible to apply for a National Defence Medal if it were to come into being and that costs to the taxpayer could come to £300 million; a figure disputed by campaigners.

But Ms Oswald, the MP for East Renfrewshire, who has secured a Westminster Hall debate on the subject, said it was time the UK Government acknowledged a National Defence Medal should be awarded to veterans as a mark of gratitude and respect.

She said: “Millions of veterans of the armed forces, who served but did not necessarily fight in battles, should receive a National Defence Medal.

"In other countries, like the United States and Australia, it is the practice to recognise service after three of four years but in the UK only after 15 years do service personnel get long service and good conduct medals. This leaves many who have diligently undertaken often dangerous roles with no tangible recognition of their service.”

She claimed the MoD’s response was too dismissive and that the issue of a National Defence Medal should not be cost-driven.

"We should be constantly aware of just how much our service personnel sacrifice to keep us safe and maintain our security. The Tories need to rethink this slightly cavalier approach,” declared Ms Oswald, adding: “Meeting the duty of care that we owe our service personnel must always be our top priority.’’