Government unveils new £2.7m boost to help Britain's traumatised veterans

A PORTSMOUTH MP has said £2.7m being poured into mental health support for traumatised war veterans is not enough.

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid has announced the expansions of services for those experiencing complex mental health and or physical trauma, or alcohol and substance abuse.

The news comes just days after the last British troops returned from Afghanistan following the mass evacuation of people from Kabul.

The package of cash is part of the government’s Op Courage mental health and well-being service.

British soldiers from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), alongside their Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) counterparts have launched a further operation to drive the Taliban out of the Upper Gereshk Valley in Helmand Province, Southern Afghanistan. 24th July 2007. Central Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Picture: Sergeant Will Craig/Crown Copyright

Dedicated care co-ordinators will be appointed to act as a single point of contact to better support veterans with complex mental and physical trauma.

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They will help them to navigate the health and care system, consult with health and care professionals, with the ultimate aim of reducing suicide rates within the veteran community.

Mr Javid said: ‘Our serving armed forces and veterans represent the very best of us, with recent events in Afghanistan yet another reminder of their dedication and sacrifice.

‘Op Courage already provides excellent support for veterans’ mental health, but I know there is more we can do to get the right care and treatment to those who have given up so much to protect us.

‘This new funding will ensure support is in place where it is needed most, recognising the unique challenges veterans face.’

The new support network is expected to help scores of veterans across Hampshire and has been welcomed by Gosport MP, Caroline Dinenage.

The Tory minister said: ‘Gosport has a proud armed forces history. We have, and always will be, the proud home for so many brave veterans and their families. That is why this increase in funding for veterans’ mental support is such welcome news.

‘I hope that this funding will continue to help thousands of veterans, and make sure they can receive the support they deserve.’

However, Labour MP Stephen Morgan said the cash is just a fraction of what is needed to truly support Britain’s military heroes.

‘This funding represents a drop in the ocean from a government that has consistently demonstrated it can’t be trusted to prioritise care for our veterans,’ said the shadow armed forces minister.

‘The government is currently missing a range of targets for the mental health care of veterans, including huge increases in waiting times for appointments and treatment through specialist services.

‘Labour sought to amend the Armed Forces Bill to include a “mental health charter”, which would review existing standards and hold government to account for meeting their targets, but the Tories voted against it.’

The Portsmouth South MP added he would be meeting with veteran’s groups on Friday to hear more about ‘the practical action’ that can be taken to help ex-forces personnel.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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