Veterans suffering rom mental health problems will now receive specialist care as part of a new programme called Operation Courage.
The new service will bring together military and veterans charities and NHS staff to provide therapy, rehabilitation and where necessary in-patient support for former armed forces members. Anyone needing urgent help will also get a same day referral.
By bringing the charities together with the NHS, the NHS hopes to gain a better understanding of the illnesses and health conditions which affect veterans and the issues faced by those who have risked their lives for our country. The service now wants veterans to come forward for help, even if they think it is trivial because they struggle with a comrade’s death long after it happened, that they hate loud noises because it brings flashbacks or still struggle to sleep and adapt to life on civvy street.
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said:
We owe a special debt of gratitude to those who risk all for their country and the NHS is determined to do its part in honouring that.
Anyone can be affected by mental ill health but armed forces veterans may have seen and experienced things that few others – thankfully – will.
That can create a special set of challenges which working with military charities helps to overcome and that it what is at the heart of Op Courage – ensuring that the NHS is a National Hero Service.
The NHS has already provided specialist services to over 13,000 soldiers since mental health services were expanded as part of the NHS Long Term Plan and it was clear more support was needed. Other commitments laid out in the plan include ensuring access to quality secondary care, reducing healthcare inequalities, helping with the transition to civilian life and increased support for vets’ families, children and carers.
Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Johnny Mercer, said:
One of the biggest challenges we face with veterans mental healthcare in this country is making sure those who need help know where to turn.
Op Courage, a collaborative piece of work between NHS England and the Office for Veterans Affairs, will provide a clear single route for accessing specialist care.
Looking after our veterans is a national responsibility in which we all have a role to play. We all have a duty to ensure Op Courage is known about and understood up and down this country. Help is available; you can get better. Speak up. Have courage.
To get involved with the project if you are a veteran, contact your GP or 0800 323 4444