Government minister Johnny Mercer 'inspired' by Portsmouth's standards of veteran support

THE support available for armed forces veterans has never been better – but we cannot rest on our laurels just yet.

By David George
Friday, 16th October 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 16th October 2020, 8:04 am

That was the message from veterans minister Johnny Mercer MP, who visited Portsmouth today.

The Conservative politician came to the city to find out more about the support in place for serving personnel, as well as those leaving the forces.

From charities such as All Call Signs to medical assistance for mental health and PTSD, he believes that there is a wealth of options available.

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Johnny Mercer MP, front, visited Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham to discuss the care given to armed forces veterans. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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He said: ‘Today we have seen some of the schemes going on down at the naval base and at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, either preparing service personnel for civilian life or accessing services that will support them during tough times.

‘It was really inspiring to see what is going on and it has been a privilege to help out as much as we can.

‘From forces railcards to national insurance schemes, the Office for Veterans’ Affairs is completely changing what it means to be a veteran in this country.

Keith Malcolm, armed forces covnant lead nurse. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘Now more than ever there is help available and there are people veterans can talk to – if you are a veteran and you are struggling, speak up and reach out, because people do care and they want to help.’

Queen Alexandra Hospital is one of the few hospitals in the UK to have a gold standard for Veteran Aware status.

Along with taking on veterans as employees – with around 200 at the hospital – care is also being tailored to individual veterans and their needs.

Keith Malcolm is the hospital’s armed forces covenant lead nurse, and pays a visit to every veteran who comes through the hospital doors.

It’s his job to give veterans at QA a familiar face, helping with their treatment while also working out in the community.

He said: ‘For me, it’s about making staff aware of how a veteran’s care should be managed differently.

‘They might have mental health problems or PTSD and that has to be taken into account.

‘Doing this job fills me with pride – we have to take good care of our veterans because they sacrificed so much for us, and here I feel like I can do just that.’

The News launched the Veterans in Crisis campaign two years ago to raise awareness of the needs veterans, and also to urge coroners to record veteran suicides specifically to be able to draw and accurate picture of the problem.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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