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Poor mental health care for veterans

July 21, 2009

An article in Defence Management Journal takes aim at what it calls “patchy” mental health services for veterans suffering from combat stress related problems.

Chief executive Commodore Toby Elliott said that the government and NHS provide for less than half of the 9,000 registered ex-servicemen who are suffering from the effects of combat including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

He was praiseworthy of the in-service treatment provided for servicemen, but pointed out that once personnel left the Armed Forces they had to wait on the NHS waiting lists for treatment and counselling. Often this resulted in veterans having to rely on charities for care.

Overall Elliot labelled the care provided by the NHS as a “spit in the ocean” according to the BBC. The MoD and NHS have set up six pilot treatment centres around the UK for mental healthcare treatment for veterans. Elliot said this would result in a “postcode lottery” leaving many veterans unable to receive treatment.

In the US, veterans have access to counselling and treatment through the Veterans Administration. No such organisation exists here, resulting in cases being deferred to the NHS. Counsellors in many instances have said they cannot “cope” with veterans and do no understand the extent of their problems.



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