Call For Veterans To Be Given More Help Adapting To Civilian Life

MP and former reservist Paul Sweeney thinks the government has a responsibility to do more.

There are calls for more to be done to help veterans in Scotland adapt to civilian life.

Forces News has found that those who have served in the military want to see more services north of the border to help transition and former service personnel to get the help they need quicker.

Research released last week by the University of Glasgow found that people who have served in the Armed Forces for a short time are at increased risk of self-harm.

Lead researcher on the study, Dr Beverly Bergman told Forces News that those who have served a short time in the forces are at increased risk of self-harm: "It’s a trend that we've seen with a lot of other conditions as well.

"This study has looked at 48 different conditions, including physical and mental conditions, and we’ve looked at heart attacks, different types of cancer and different aspects of mental health.

“We’ve found that in general…people with the shortest service have tended to have rather more difficult long-term health outcomes."

Anon troops

Glasgow North East MP Paul Sweeney served as a reservist in the 6th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and thinks more need to be done: "There needs to be a much more robust financial investment from the Government to support veterans.

"There’s a lot of great charities out there. Erskine’s been going for over a hundred years in Scotland.

"There’s a great track record of provision, of support and the government does support charities but I think there’s an over-reliance on goodwill and people’s sense of what is right.

"That is sometimes taken advantage of to save money."

Erskine runs activities for veterans, including an art class, of which Garry Morrison is part of: "You hear statistics of how veterans are struggling and stuff like that.

"But you see them in here, all ages – young through old, all different backgrounds.

Obviously if you look around, there’s people doing their projects, trying different things. So it’s getting people out, keeping them motivated."

Erskine art class
An art class is one of the activities offered to veterans by a forces charity.

Yvonne McCord, the activities coordinator at the centre, said there’s a need for more initiatives: "The activity centre has proved that there’s a need for places like this.

"There are other organisations, but there needs to be more. There needs to be things that people can feel comfortable and feel happy [with]. [Help] people move on with their life and deal with the transition from military life to civilian life."

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson told Forces News:

"We take the mental health of service personnel and veterans extremely seriously, and we encourage anyone struggling to access the extensive support available.

"We have increased spending on mental health to £22 million a year, and we are working hard to tackle any perceived stigma around mental illness.

“Veterans can access specialist medical care from the NHS, and the wide range of support through the Veterans’ Gateway – the first port of call for veterans in need of support."