PLANS to open a new centre in a military fort to help veterans traumatised by war by have been revealed.
An innovative project led by charity Forgotten Veterans is looking to provide a stunning retreat for suffering veterans at Fort Cumberland.
If it gets the go-ahead from Historic England in July, veterans will be able to camp out at the fort to help their recovery.
While there will be specially trained support staff on hand, the opportunity to share experiences with other like-minded individuals will provide them with a strong network of support to fend off isolation and loneliness.
The centre will be made up of transformed casemates – fortified structures from which guns used to be fired – and will include a safe room, kitchen as well as communal area with pool tables, television, game stations and sofas. Gary Weavings, who set up Forgotten Veterans, which already has 25,000 members, opened his heart at a gathering of interested parties, which included the leader of the council Gerald Vernon-Jackson, MP Stephen Morgan and Lord Mayor Lee Mason who came to the see vision.
Speaking of his torment which saw him turn to drink and sink into a deep depression after coming out of the Royal Engineers in 2010, Gary said he wanted to stop others going through what he did.
‘This is going to be massive for veterans – not only for those in Portsmouth and Hampshire but also for the whole of the country especially as we have an epidemic of veteran suicides at the moment,’ he said.
‘We will give them a chance to come here and speak with properly trained mental health people while drug and alcohol nurses will really make a difference. It will pick them up and find the problems before they escalate.
He added: ‘I believe it will help saves lives - it has to.’