THE Government’s duty of care to the Armed Forces extends beyond this week’s pay increase. It also includes pastoral responsibilities which are becoming more apparent as awareness grows about the plight of military veterans as they come to terms with conditions like PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – and other mental health issues.
For many, it is the toughest battle, one which they previously fought in solitary isolation, before notable individuals, like Princes William and Harry, shone a light on this issue and encouraged sufferers to come to term with their demons rather than suffer in silence. Now there’s an expectation that the Ministry of Defence – and military charities – will provide the requisite support.
However today’s report by the Defence Select Committee makes sobering reading a week after The Yorkshire Post – and its sister titles – highlighted a worrying increase in the number of former soldiers appearing to commit suicide taking their own lives as they struggle to make the transition to civilian life. It says that it is still taking “too long” for veterans to access treatment, with some falling through the gaps and availability of care varying in different parts of the UK.
This is unacceptable. Despite Theresa May repeatedly pledging to prioritise the treatment of mental illnesses, too much is being left to chance as young soldiers who fought with distinction and honour in Iraq and Afghanistan come to terms with the scars of battle. They went to war on this country’s behalf. The least they deserve in return is the support outlined by MPs and others.