Portsmouth doctors encourage service veterans to seek help

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DOCTORS in Portsmouth say veterans are reluctant to come forward when they are struggling in civilian life.

The Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group is encouraging ex-servicemen and women in the city to come forward with illnesses or other problems and seek help from their GP.

Dr Elizabeth Fellows, from the health care service, said a military attitude of ‘get up and get going’ could be contributing to the issue.

She said: ‘Former servicemen and women learn from the military to get up and get going so it is about how we approach that.

‘The military is doing massive amounts as well and the ethos is gradually changing.

‘We help a range of veterans from people in their early 20s right through to older people and the issues are very diverse from physical injuries from conflict or training to mental health issues and substance or alcohol abuse.

‘Some are from adjustments of coming back to civilian life.

‘It is a huge change to being on board a ship or an army base with a company or platoon you have been serving with.’

Portsmouth CCG is working with GPs to identify veterans when they first register with the practice.

Dr Fellows added: ‘This allows people to ask questions around adjustments and substance misuse. We can sign post those people to the help they need.’

Veterans are also getting help from Portsmouth-based Company of Makers.

The group organise events for former servicemen and women to refurbish old furniture.

Steve Bomford, one of the founders of the group in Old Portsmouth, said: ‘One of the big benefits we of what we do is getting people out of their home and into an environment with camaraderie and banter.

‘It is very much a social event to get them back into the civilian world.’