I’m really glad that I had the chance to speak up for veterans yesterday on the issue of mental health and pay tribute to my friend, who served in the Balkans, Northern Ireland and the first Gulf War as a young soldier, who died recently after struggling with his mental health for two decades. Despite our best efforts we weren’t able to help Ric. I called for action in the hope that other veterans – and indeed, all those facing mental health problems – receive better support.
I think we’ve made progress on veteran wellbeing in the last few years, as the general approach to mental health in wider society has improved. But too many former servicemen and women are still feeling abandoned, despite their years of service to this country.
Establishing permanent networks of support is crucial in combatting isolation and must be part of a wider concerted effort to improve the care provided to soldiers post-deployment.
In his response the Minister mentioned ‘Op Courage’, the NHS mental health service which launched in March – designed to help serving personnel due to leave the military, as well as veterans and their families. Further information on that scheme can be found here.
Watch clip here: