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Lack of care of veterans - a step in the right direction

By Jonathan Clement, Partner in Personal Injury.

Ex-Armed Forces servicemen have often struggled to find suitable specialist treatment on the NHS for mental health problems that often emerge in individuals who have experienced the stress of warfare.

A step in the right direction has been made through a formal strategic partnership between the Department of Health, the MOD and leading charity Combat Stress. A statutory grant of £140,000 will allow NHS Mental Health Trusts and staff at Combat Stress to work together to ensure services are appropriate and accessible to veterans suffering serious injuries of an enduring nature, including mental health conditions.

On 11 March 2010 the Prince of Wales launched the new 'Enemy Within' appeal on behalf of Combat Stress which aims to raise £30 million for a national network of community out-reach for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress.

The Mental Health Foundation, a London charity which campaigns on Armed Forces issues, states that there are 329 cases of suicide confirmed among personnel who served in the Falkland's War – more than were actually killed during the conflict itself. And while 24 British soldiers died during the Gulf War the MoD disclosed last year that 169 veterans of the conflict had died from “intentional self-harm” or in circumstances that led to open verdicts at inquests. MoD figures also revealed that 20% of returning servicemen and women from that conflict were diagnosed with mental health problems, including depression, PTSD, suicidal thoughts, anxiety disorders and alcohol and substance abuse.

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