Portsmouth MP demands Britain does more for its veteran community gripped by suicide epidemic
‘I WILL continue to keep fighting for veterans rights’, MP Stephen Morgan has insisted.
The city Labour leader made his pledge ahead of a critical debate in parliament today, which will see MPs discussing the UK’s veteran suicide crisis.
Mr Morgan secured the debate following a campaign by The News and military groups in Portsmouth.
Now, in an open letter to The News, the Portsmouth South MP said the UK must take note of the crisis.
‘We demand so much from our brave service men and women, we must offer them our support when they return to civilian life,’ he wrote. ‘Yet across the country, veterans are being let down by this government’s lack of action.
‘Currently, the government’s efforts to support our veteran’s mental health is substandard.
‘It is morally repugnant that in an NHS budget of over £150bn UK-wide, less than £10m per annum (0.007 per cent) has been allocated to veteran-specific mental health services.
‘The government is not only refusing to give the necessary money to veteran’s services, but it is also refusing to give us the tools to highlight the gravity and reach of the problem by declining to hold relevant data.’
As previously revealed by this paper, Britain has no policy of recording veteran suicides, unlike allies like Australia, Canada and the US.
‘The significance of this cannot be underestimated,’ Mr Morgan wrote.’Without a quantifiable record, it will be harder to make progress with regard to addressing the serious issue.
‘Current estimates project that it could be as high as one ex-serviceperson every seven days but without detailed analysis, the problem has the potential to be far worse.’
Mr Morgan said Britain ‘tailored mental health support for veterans with ‘complex needs’ was needed and demanded the government makes it ‘compulsory’ for all coroners to record veteran suicides.
‘Calls for suicide monitoring have come from a litany of sources including The News and local charities,’ he added. ‘The fact that the figures are currently not readily available for public scrutiny is a danger to service people and our democracy.’