A “world-class centre for the treatment of mental injuries” suffered by Service personnel should be established in the next 12-18 months, says a new Report by the House of Commons Defence Committee.
Whilst the Committee says it previously found that the vast majority of veterans leave the Services with no ill-effects, the minority who do suffer from mental health conditions need timely and appropriate care. The Ministry of Defence and the four UK health departments have made improvements, over the past decade, including the introduction of some veteran-specific services.
Defence Committee member and Chair of the APPG for the Armed Forces Covenant, Ruth Smeeth MP, says:
“We acknowledge the work that the MOD and the UK health departments are doing to improve the mental health care provided to both serving personnel and veterans; but it is simply nowhere near enough.
Fundamental issues still clearly exist, with scandalously little funding allocated to veteran-specific services, and it is unacceptable that veterans and their families should feel abandoned by the state as a result. It is vital that veterans get the quality of care they need when they need it, no matter where they live, supported by a world-class national centre.
Only then will the Armed Forces communities believe that the promises made in the Covenant are not just hollow words.”
The report adds:
“The Committee is greatly concerned by the UK’s lack of Armed Forces’ family-specific specialist mental health care—even when the very limited contribution of the Armed Forces charity sector is included”, it states.
“The Committee is convinced of the need for a highly specialised place of safety to which veterans can be sent as soon as they are diagnosed, in order to be stabilised and to begin receiving assistance.”