The Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, Dan Jarvis, who is himself a former Army major, told The Yorkshire Post that the transition to civilian life was a huge challenge for many veterans.
The stark reality of leaving behind a career that has comradeship at its core coupled with the stark experiences of war zones and harrowing memories of military tours have taken a massive toll on many former personnel.
Mr Jarvis, who is also the Labour MP for Barnsley Central, said: “The point of transition is the point of vulnerability.
“Having done this myself it is going from the comfort of what you’ve known, the safe environment of the military, where a lot of things are done for you, to that brave new world where you are on your own and you look around and you haven’t got your mates there.
“That period of transition is absolutely important.
“It’s about making sure people set out on the right track - it’s incredibly important for them but for the sub communities in society where they settle into.”
He added: “I’m quite sure some are slipping through the net at the moment.”
Mr Jarvis’ own Armed Forces career saw him serve in the Parachute Regiment with challenging deployments to Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, rising to the rank of Major and even having a $50,000 bounty put on his head by the Taliban.
He has now called for increased powers at a local level and long-term investment in Yorkshire’s NHS mental health and alcohol provision services to provide more support in the region.
He said: “This is the most stressful time in our history since the Second World War.
“We should be keeping an eye out on those people for whom lockdown will be particularly traumatic, and that very definitely includes those cohort of veterans who may already be struggling based on some of their experiences they have had in the military.”
He added: “There is still a particular issue amongst serving population and veterans when it comes to alcohol-related problems.
“It is still quite a macho, hard drinking environment. What is important is when people are experiencing problems in this area, there is that understanding that there is that support so people can recover as a serving soldier or a veteran.
“There is still a significant number of soldiers and veterans who have problems with drink.
“Those problems manifest themselves in different ways - but for many it will be the root of the issues they face when they leave.”
While he welcomed progress made by the Ministry of Defence over recent years, he stressed there was still a perceived ‘culture of silence’ concerning mental health within the Armed Forces.
He said: “Still there is a culture that persists that those who are suffering with mental health issues are essentially displaying a sign of weakness and that is not the way that people will be helped.
“The great tragedies or often the people who suffer from mental health related issues as a result of their service are actually the bravest and toughest people.
“Because they are the people who volunteered to go back time and time again - those are the people who put themselves in harm's way on countless occasions.
“These are precisely the kind of people we need to support and invest in to get them well and keep them well.
“We are certainly not at a point where all of the support systems are in place. Some progress to report but much more work needs to be done.”
A special Yorkshire Post report includes:
- Armed Forces veteran across the region open up about the struggles of living with post-traumatic stress disorder
- In an exclusive interview Johnny Mercer, the minister responsible for Armed Forces veterans, has admitted that the Government needs more ambition in ensuring former military personnel are given the support they need to adapt to civilian life.
- Armed Forces charities, including many that operate across Yorkshire and the Humber, have warned that financial pressures are placing the support they provide under intense strain after vital fundraising has been left in tatters throughout the past year.
- While an urgent review is needed to ensure homeless veterans are not rendered invisible by the way statistics are collected, a leading academic in the North of England has warned.
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