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UK govt and charities highlight veterans support

The meeting agreed that the Office for Veterans’ Affairs (OVA) will monitor the effects that recent events have had on veterans…reports Asian Lite News

Government, charities and the academic sector met on Wednesday to highlight the range of support on offer to veterans of the Afghanistan conflict, in light of the difficult situation in the country.

The meeting, co-chaired by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty and attended by the Health Secretary Sajid Javid, brought together government departments, veterans charities and experts in military mental health.

They discussed the potential for the current situation in Afghanistan to impact the mental health of veterans, outlined the support available to former service personnel across the UK and agreed to share information and best practice on supporting veterans through this difficult time.

The meeting agreed that the Office for Veterans’ Affairs (OVA) will monitor the effects that recent events have had on veterans, and bring together experts from health academia to further inform government understanding of the issue.

The OVA will be funding phase four of the KCL cohort study looking at veterans health and wellbeing and agreed to work with KCL to understand how government can measure the impact of current events on the veteran community as part of this study.

Additionally, the OVA and Forces in Mind Trust will work together to explore how to bring veterans who served in Afghanistan together, in order to support each other. Research suggests that these veterans could benefit from ‘supportive comradeship’, particularly among those who served together.

“The situation in Afghanistan is very difficult and I understand why those from the veteran community who served there with such great distinction will be concerned,” Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty said.

“We will always be indebted for your sacrifice and you played a key role in keeping this country safe from the threat of terrorism. For those who may be struggling, I urge you to access the range of veterans specific support available,” he added.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I recognise that the experience of conflict can affect the physical and mental wellbeing of our veterans, and that the events currently taking place in Afghanistan may have a detrimental impact on the mental health of those who served there.”

“I am committed to ensuring our veterans can access the support they need. The NHS already provides incredible mental health support for our veteran community, but I know there is more to do.”

“I encourage any veteran who is struggling to cope to reach out for help. Services like Op COURAGE and the Veterans’ Gateway helpline are there for you, so please come forward,” he added.

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