Some veterans leaving service face inconsistent support, study finds

New research has identified inconsistent experiences in accessing support for personnel leaving the forces due to a physical injury or condition.

The study commissioned by the Forces in Mind Trust found while there was evidence of good practice, there was significant variability, uncertainty and inconsistencies in the recovery and resettlement processes. 

Researches say the differing experiences need to be addressed by the Government and NHS. 

Mike Ellicock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said the research provides "important and useful recommendations for improvements which can make a real difference to those who leave service with a physical condition or injury".

Mr Ellicock added that "some" of the recommendations have already been acknowledged by the Government and NHS.

"We hope to see them now take action to remove some of the barriers which remain, and ensure consistent and accessible support is provided," he said.

The study was conducted by the University of Central Lancashire in partnership with the University of Salford.

The recommendations in the report focused on three areas:

  • Process improvements throughout the medical discharge process
  • Better communication surrounding compensation payments and financial support
  • Continuity of health care from the military into civilian life

Participants' accounts demonstrated that there was a need to provide greater mental health support to those discharged with a physical injury or condition to help them adjust to their sudden change of circumstances.

The research found another significant challenge was whether sufficient time has been recommended by the medical board to allow service leavers adequate time to prepare for civilian life.

According to the study, the lack of time to prepare for some had significant and negative consequences.

The value of financial support available was often viewed positively, but significant concerns were raised about the complexity of various schemes and payments, uncertainty during long waiting periods and the level of awards that were given, the report said.

It also found that while many service leavers experienced a seamless process as their medical care was transferred to civilian healthcare, there were equal numbers who had experienced difficulties.

Watch: In January, the Veterans Strategy Action Plan was launched to help former personnel get into work.

In response to the research, a Government spokesperson said: "We are forever indebted to those who have served our country, which is exactly why we are determined to make the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran.  

"Our Veterans' Strategy Action Plan will help ensure vital support services are as accessible and comprehensive as possible, and we are investing £5m in getting veterans who have suffered physical injury or mental health challenges during their service access to innovative new treatments. 

"We are grateful to the Forces in Mind Trust for this research, which will contribute to our important work to develop an integrated plan for the physical health of veterans by Spring 2023."

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