Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Broken heroes betrayed by army bosses as veteran charity is cut

A CHARITY helping Army veterans with mental health problems is having its funding slashed.
Soldier in despair 
DESPAIR: Combat Stress has had its allowance slashed
 
The Ministry of Defence has cut its annual allowance to Combat Stress from £2.8million a year to £750,000 – despite new referrals to the organisation going up 28% in the last 12 months.
Combat Stress is treating around 6,000 veterans and takes 800 calls for help every month.
Boss Peter Poole said: “The length of time it takes conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to develop is around 13 years, so the number could continue to rise.”
Johnny Mercer PA
'MORE HELP': Johnny Mercer
 
The charity’s experts treat a range of conditions including recurring nightmares and depression but it costs £18million a year to run its three treatment centres in the UK.
More than 180,000 Brit troops have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2003.
In 2012, more soldiers committed suicide than were killed in Afghanistan.
Last month Tory MP and former Army officer Johnny Mercer called the treatment of veterans in the UK a “great stain” on the nation.
Soldier under stressed GETTY
SUFFERING: Referrals to Combat Stress have gone up 28% in the last 12 months
He told fellow politicians that more needs to be done to help them.
Mr Mercer said in the Commons: “I regret to say that, aside from some excellent individual practice and charitable work, the way we look after our veterans’ mental health in this country remains poor.
“Many of our young men and women, who by good training and fortune walked away from battle without any physical scars, have been stricken in later years by an underlying sickness that can tear at the very core of the strongest and most enduring individual. Our British public have in the latter part of the last decade been the knight in shining armour flying over the horizon and rescuing some of our most war-scarred individuals.
“They have given millions upon millions of pounds and donated time, effort, blood, sweat and tears to looking after Our Boys and Girls.
Soldiers marching 
HEROES: Post-traumatic stress disorder develops after around 13 years
“I regret to say that, aside from some excellent individual practice and charitable work, the way we look after our veterans’ mental health in this country remains poor”
Johnny Mercer
“They are, quite simply, what makes Britain great and what make us, when we are away, so proud, and fight so hard for the country we love.”
Although the charity is having its funding from the MoD reduced, it has been awarded a £4.6million contract with the NHS.
But Dr Lisa Cameron, SNP Member of Parliament for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow, said mainstream health care professionals were struggling to deal with the health issues facing veterans.
She said: “Problems arising in the current system appear to relate to a number of issues, including help-seeking, referral, assessment and access to appropriate treatments. One study reported that only a quarter of those diagnosed with mental health problems had accessed medical help.
“There is a tendency to rely on prescribing medication and, according to Combat Stress, there is a problem of low rates of referral to its service by GPs and community mental health teams.”
She also said the effectiveness of the current follow-up service – which involves sending troops a letter – needs to be re-evaluated.
The Ministry of Defence did not respond to requests for comment.

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/475677/broken-heroes-betrayed-by-army-bosses-veteran-charity-cut 

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