MORE needs to be done to help support veterans, especially those who turn to drink, drugs and crime, according to a new military charity.
Care After Combat – a charity founded by comedian Jim Davidson and Falklands hero Simon Weston OBE – held an event at Ferneham Hall, in Fareham yesterday to promote its cause.
About 100 people gathered to hear guest speakers and to learn more about how the charity wants to bring a more cohesive approach to how military charities deal with vulnerable veterans.
Charity chairman Mr Davidson said: ‘Care After Combat does things that some of the other charities do not do, we concentrate on veterans with drink and substance abuse problems, and we also deal with veterans who are in prison.
‘We go in to prisons and help them. We try and make sure that when they come out there is a structure in place so they do not reoffend.’
Mr Weston, who is a trustee of the charity, knows only too well the support needed for veterans.
He was a young Welsh Guardsman aboard the Sir Galahad during the Falklands War when his ship was bombed and set on fire.
He survived but with 46 per cent burns, which left his face barely recognisable.
Mr Weston has since been a tireless worker for charities and was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 1992.
He said: ‘We want to reengage with people and get them to have a future – a noble and honourable future – which they once had.
‘We are not trying to absolve any of their issues, we are trying to give them a positive outcome so they are not a problem to their family, friends and to society.
‘It is not about penalising people forever, it’s about rehabilitation and looking to the future.
‘Forget the baggage of the past, let’s bring the lessons to the future so we can have a positive outcome for the people who never abandoned us when we needed them to go off and fight for us.’
The charity, which was founded last year, runs several initiatives, including a veterans-only version of Alcoholics’ Anonymous.
Mr Davidson said that Care After Combat was different to other military charities as it did not exclude those who had turned to drink, drugs and crime, which many do as they are under stress.
He added: ‘There are over 2,000 military charities and the poor veteran does not know where to go but we all have the veteran’s best interests at heart.
‘And that’s what we are trying to do – slim down and punch harder.’
For more about the charity go to careaftercombat.org