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25 Aug 21. August edition of the SSAFA newsletter! Thank you for your wonderful support and for making a difference to the lives of those in the Armed Forces who need it most. We hope you enjoy this month’s newsletter.
Surge in online demand for Forcesline
We are delighted to report that the Forcesline live webchat feature has been very successful, and has been used by more and more people since it was launched last year. It has allowed people – particularly those who are uncomfortable speaking on the phone – to get instant access to the Forcesline team, who have then been able to provide the reassurance and support so often needed.
FANDF Conference 2021
The biennial Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum Conference will be held on 5 October 2021 (Covid restrictions permitting). This is our big networking and information event for military families who live with a disability. If you do live with a disability, and are not yet a member of FANDF, now is a good time to join, attend the conference and get access to the information and support you may need.
Mentoring Team briefs Minister of Defence People and Veterans
SSAFA’s Transitional Mentoring Team – who help servicemen and women on their journey into civilian life – have provided a key briefing to Leo Docherty MP, Minister for Defence People and Veterans. The team explained to the Minister the key areas that most affect transitioning service personnel, and how the MoD can best support them.
Charity Adventurers raise £9,000
for Armed Forces charities!
Two adventurers have run the entire 630 mile length of the South West Coastal Path – England’s longest National Trail.
Taking five weeks, covering four counties, and dealing with all forms of weather Alex and George have raised an incredible £9,000 for SSAFA and other Armed Forces charities.
Ride the Plain – 26 September 2021
This is the last chance to sign up for Ride the Plain, a unique SSAFA cycle ride around Larkhill camp and the beautiful surrounding area. Whatever your cycling ability this event is not to be missed. Sign up today to secure your place!
Trek the Balkans – 5 June 2022
If you are looking forward to exploring the world post-lockdown we have the event for you! Trek the Balkans is a 7 day SSAFA trek through the 3 highest peaks in the heart of the Balkans.
3 Peaks Challenge – 2 September 2022
3 Peaks Challenge is one of the most popular trekking challenges in the UK and will see you take on the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales. Why not dig out those walking boots and join us for this iconic event?
25 Aug 21. Government and charities highlight veterans support, in light of situation in Afghanistan.
The meeting outlined support available to former service personnel across the UK and agreed to share information and best practice on supporting veterans.
Government, charities and the academic sector met today 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 today to work with KCL to understand how we 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 government and the nation is extremely grateful for the role the armed forces community played in keeping the country safe from the threat of terrorism, through combat operations (known as Op Herrick) and the subsequent train, advise and assist mission, in Afghanistan. While this may be a challenging time for those who served in Afghanistan, veterans should be in no doubt of the significant role they played in serving their country and keeping it safe.
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty said, “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.
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.
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.
If you are struggling as a result of the recent events in Afghanistan, there is support available across the United Kingdom for veterans and those affected:
- In England, veterans and their families in England can get specialist help from the NHS Op COURAGE service.
- In Wales, you can reach out to Veteran Therapists in each Local Health Board through Veteran Wales.
- In Scotland, veterans can access veteran-led mental health and welfare support through Veterans First Point, part of NHS Scotland.
- In Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Veterans’ Support Office links individual veterans, veterans’ groups, statutory and non-statutory bodies, and charities supporting veterans.
- Anyone in the UK or overseas can also contact the Veterans’ Gateway helpline on 0808 802 1212, or visit the website for advice and signposting to further support, including for families and the bereaved.
SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has been providing lifelong support to our Forces and their families since 1885. In 2020, our teams of volunteers and employees helped more than 79,000 people in need, the currently serving (both regulars and reserves), veterans from the Second World War and those who have served in more recent conflicts, as well as their families. SSAFA understands that behind every uniform is a person. And we are here for that person – any time they need us, in any way they need us, for as long as they need us.