Combat Stress: Afghanistan and Iraq veterans set to pile pressure on health service

According to the armed forces mental health charity Combat Stress, defence cuts could see thousands more combat veterans needing NHS help to cope with a range of mental illnesses

From a story by Nick Hopkins of The Guardian:

Cuts to the armed forces could lead to thousands more combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan needing help to cope with a range of mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder, a charity has warned.

With the British army being cut by a fifth between now and 2020, and the navy and air force shrinking too, the numbers leaving military service are rising fast. This could put an extra burden on the NHS to care for battle-scarred troops, according to Combat Stress.

The charity says many personnel are unable to acknowledge they have a problem and that it takes 13 years on average before a veteran will seek help voluntarily, by which time they may have done further damage to themselves as well as their families.

It fears the problem could become acute because of the cost-cutting redundancy programme started by the Ministry of Defence earlier this year, and has called on the government and doctors to do more to support veterans once they have left service.

The charity's chief executive, Commodore Andrew Cameron, said: "Much more needs to be done by front line clinicians and GPs to help veterans' suffering from mental illnesses.

"More needs to be done to proactively identify [them]. Service personnel leaving the armed forces should be more thoroughly screened for PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] and other mental illnesses and GPs should be better informed about which of their patients have served in the armed forces and the possible effects of battlefield trauma.

"We cannot allow the many servicemen and women who will leave the armed forces next year who may be suffering from trauma-related mental wounds to go unnoticed and untreated."...

Medical, health, recovery

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