Hundreds of veterans are committing suicide waiting for Government help
Shameful Ministry of Defence figures show 400 ex military personnel killed themselves between 1995-2014 – but the real number is believed to be much higher based on reports from frontline care workers who bear the brunt of the Government’s “woefully inefficient” mental health services.
Support charities say the shocking number of suicides has reached epidemic levels – a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The Armed Forces Covenant, signed by every single local authority, says veterans should take priority when it comes to both health care AND housing – but this is not happening.
Today we are calling for the authorities to honour their commitments to the brave men and women who put their lives on the line for this country.
Please sign our petition as part of the Homes for Heroes Campaign to demand change: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/182429
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They are owed both our thanks and to be treated with dignity and humanity through swift and effective care and priority access to housing.
Our investigation revealed it can take years for a damaged ex-serviceman or woman to receive a phone call or appointment with a therapist through Government sponsored channels. By which time many have spiralled into a life of mental trauma, substance abuse, homelessness and abject depression.
Express.co.uk can reveal it is being left to voluntary workers, many of them veterans themselves suffering with PTSD, to run 24-hour suicide prevention squads.
Often the horrific events they deal with on a daily basis mean the rescue workers themselves need to go back into therapy.
Veterans are homeless and lacking mental health care because the Government isn't pulling its weight
Tony Hayes, who is the Chief Executive of Veterans Association UK, said: “If the Government claim only 20 veterans are dying every year I’m telling you there’s that number every week.
“In the last year alone just in my area we’ve saved the lives of 39 people.
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But not everyone survived, Tony said there was a case where one of his friends left the military in 2013 and contacted Combat Stress, which receives Government funding and works closely with the NHS, in desperate need of help.
A case worker came to his property, conducted an assessment but the PTSD sufferer, who we are calling Jim, waited 18 months for a call back.
He killed himself three days before Christmas.
Prince Harry meets the D-Day Landings veterans Fri, June 3, 2016
Prince Harry meets the veterans who took part in the D-Day landings in 1944, at Southwick House, near Portsmouth, the headquarters where the Allied commanders planned the Normandy invasion.
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Prince Harry attends a reception with veterans who took part in the D-Day landings in 1944
Tony said: “It’s criminal that these brave men and women, who fought for this country, are forced to come home and wait a dangerously long time for mental health care – and for conditions they developed while serving the Queen.
“By the time they’ve waited a year it can be too late.”
A female soldier who has to remain anonymous for legal reasons, told Express.co.uk that if it was not for Veterans Association UK and their un-funded team of volunteers she would be dead now.
The woman, now 45, developed PTSD before leaving the military.
MIKE HOOKEM MEP
Tony Hayes runs a suicide prevention scheme at Veterans Association UK
If I was still waiting for the Government’s support I’d be dead
She was unable to find a house and suffered a mental breakdown before trying to take her own life three times.
Tony took a call from her shortly before her fourth attempt and paid for her to travel to his house, where he let her stay for several days while continually administering the therapy she so urgently needed.
She said: “If I was still waiting for the Government’s support I’d be dead. Tony saved my life but why is the responsibility to look after veterans falling on the shoulders of ex-forces men and women who are volunteers, often battling their own demons too.”
UKIP Veterans Spokesman; Mike Hookem MEP said, “Veteran care is a basic duty of government, yet they are failing in this critical responsibility.”
“Instead of taking on the responsibility and providing adequate services and care to veterans themselves, the government prefer to ‘outsource’ the task to military charities.
“And while charities working in the veterans sector do an incredible job; many are underfunded and totally overstretched.
“That is why it is critical to rethink how the government delivers veterans services and care moving forward.”
“As a minimum, the Armed Forces and Communities Covenant must be made fit for purpose and fulfil its objective of compensating veterans for the disadvantages and injuries they face due to their military service.
“This should be an absolute priority of government, as we have a moral duty to look after those who are prepared to risk all to defend us.
“I would also like to see the creation of a Veterans Affairs Department – using the USVA as a model – that will be responsible for all aspects of post-service armed forces care, and which could relieve the burden currently placed on military charities by the Government.
“The fact is, under the terms of the covenant, not one veteran should be sleeping on the street or be unable to access care, yet it is an ever present issue.
“So join me in signing the express.co.uk petition to make sure our veterans get the help and treatment they so richly deserve.”
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