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06 Sep 21. Armed Forces charities to receive £5m boost. Armed Forces charities will receive an additional £5m funding to support those who have served. The Prime Minister has announced today that Armed Forces charities will receive £5m in additional funding to support those who have served, including those who may be struggling following recent events in Afghanistan. The Prime Minister made the announcement at a statement today in the House of Commons on the situation in Afghanistan. The additional funding will be allocated to a range of projects that will increase capacity in mental health charities, improve veterans’ understanding of the support available and deliver enhanced social support. The Office for Veterans’ Affairs will allocate the funding over the coming months. Funding will also enable veterans to continue helping the people of Afghanistan who have settled in the UK under the ARAP scheme, by providing social support, integration into local communities and help navigating life in the UK. The Office for Veterans’ Affairs will commission charity provision of targeted and relevant support for Afghan refugees with military links and provide surge capacity to support transition to life in the UK. The £5m boost will also help increase the user friendliness and accessibility of services, better signposting veterans to the range of state and charitable services available to them. This will help to make mental health services even more accessible to the Afghanistan veteran cohort.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “In addition to the extra £3 million we have invested in mental health support through NHS England’s Op Courage, we are providing another £5 million to assist the military charities who do such magnificent work, with the aim of ensuring that no veteran’s request for help will go unanswered.”
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty said: “This targeted increase in funding to charities, both large and small, will allow those who served to receive a gold standard of care across the board. We are forever grateful to the serving personnel and veterans who aided the people of Afghanistan, and will ensure they get the support they need and deserve in the most accessible methods possible. This follows a Mental Health Summit two weeks ago, where the Secretary of State for Defence, Minister for Defence People and Veterans and Secretary of State for Health discussed the current mental health and wellbeing provision for service leavers across the UK with NHS, charity and academic experts.”
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. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
06 Sep 21. ‘We Need To Get Our Arm Around’ Afghanistan Veterans, Armed Forces Minister Says. James Heappey told Forces News that now is “the right time to be focusing” on the mental health of Afghanistan veterans. The Armed Forces Minister has told Forces News now is the time to support veterans who served in Afghanistan. James Heappey said there have been “far too many suicides from brave young men and women who served in our Armed Forces, particularly in Afghanistan, over the last decade”. He added veterans “will be feeling particularly vulnerable as a consequence of what has happened in Afghanistan over the last couple of weeks”. It comes after Western forces completed the military withdrawal from Afghanistan, with the final British troops leaving the country on 28 August.
Mr Heappey added: “As a Government, as a set of military charities, as regimental associations and as the wider community beyond, we need to get our arm around our Afghan veterans and keep their chin up at a time when it’s all too easy, potentially, for them to let their shoulders drop and start to question whether it was all worth it.”
Number Seeking Help From Combat Stress Doubles Amid Afghanistan Crisis
Mr Heappey also said he wants to encourage support for the wider veteran community who served in Afghanistan, as well as personnel who helped evacuate UK nationals and Afghan former staff from the country.
“I want the country to feel a sense of ownership of our Afghan veterans and to want to seek them out and say how proud we are of what they did,” he said.
“Our regimental associations I know are all hard at work reaching out to those who served in Afghanistan and reminding them of the support that’s available.”
Mr Heappey’s comments come after Combat Stress, a charity providing mental health services to veterans, said it had received double the average number of daily calls after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan.
On 16 August, staff received 70 calls, a 125% increase on the usual number; a further 50 calls on 17 August – a 61% increase; and a 103% increase – 63 calls – on 18 August.
The charity’s staff blamed the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan for the increase.
Last month, the UK’s most severely injured British soldier to survive the war in Afghanistan said it was for “absolutely nothing”.
Ben Parkinson, a Lance Bombardier, lost his legs and suffered a broken spine and pelvis after his vehicle hit a landmine in Afghanistan in 2006.
Speaking to BBC Yorkshire, Mr Parkinson told of his disappointment about the country’s situation, saying that the Taliban takeover has left people thinking: “What was it all for?”.
“It must be terrible for someone who lost a member of their family for absolutely nothing, absolutely nothing at all.
“We’ve just turned our backs on them.”
However, another Afghanistan veteran recently told Forces News he is “very happy with the sacrifices” made by military personnel in the country. (Source: forces.net)
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.