Mental Health

Veterans Minister: PTSD Has 'Ripped Apart' My Circle Of Friends

In his first interview as a minister, ex-Army officer Johnny Mercer, says he is "determined" to provide veterans with better support.


Former Army captain Johnny Mercer has vowed to provide veterans with the "best mental health care in the world" after admitting post-combat stress "ripped apart" those he served with.

It was announced on Wednesday that the newly-established Office for Veterans' Affairs would be given £5 million to help address the post-service needs of Armed Forces personnel.

Mr Mercer oversees the office in his role as Veterans Minister.

Mr Mercer, who served in Afghanistan with 29th Commando Regiment in the Royal Artillery, said veterans' care was "unacceptable" in Britain. 

He has now pledged to lay on greater provisions of care for those suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after returning home from war zones.

Anonymous British soldiers
Mr Mercer said the UK needs to provide veterans with the "best mental health care in the world" (Picture: MOD).

Speaking to ITV News, Mr Mercer said: "The mental health challenge, with repeated combat tours in theatre, whether it's in Iraq, Afghanistan, or wherever else, has completely ripped apart my circle of friends.

"I have an intimate understanding of the issues. I am not going to pretend for a minute that I have all the answers - I don't think anybody has got all the answers.

"But I am determined to get mental health care - whether it's in the veterans' community or the military community or indeed the NHS - to a place where we can offer those who have served in this country the best mental health care in the world."

Mr Mercer, who was appointed as Veterans Minister by Boris Johnson in July, says the Prime Minister is also "clear that we need to provide the world's best care to veterans in this country".

The minister said the UK has always said "it has a duty" to care for veterans but has failed. But he said the new Office for Veterans' Affairs "will see that duty through".

Mr Mercer, who is a former Army captain, has long-campaigned for veterans to receive better support.

Meanwhile, in a separate interview with The Times, Mr Mercer said far-right ideology must be stamped out in the military.

He has told the newspaper that political factions with "nasty thoughts and ideas" were trying to "use the veterans' cause" to earn support.

He added far-right ideology has "nothing in common" with the values of the Armed Forces.

Last year, a former corporal in the Royal Anglian Regiment was jailed for 8 years for belonging to a proscribed far-right group.