Military service personnel enjoy a high degree of respect and support from the UK public, serving as they do the greater national good and upholding the values that many patriotic citizens hold dear. But it is no secret that support for survivors of active conflict is lacking, and the evidence has been laid more or less bare by a survey undertaken by Bolt Burdon Kemp, alongside the Veterans’ Lifeline military charity. What were their findings, and what is being done?
Poor Government Support
Military solicitors Bolt Burdon Kemp created the 2020 Military Charity Barometer to track general opinions regarding the state of support for military veterans nationally – whether with regard to pastoral or financial support from the various government, military and charitable bodies responsible for the demographic. The initial survey took into account the responses from 20 different military charities, painting a stark picture of the state of care for formed armed forces personnel in the UK.
According to the Barometer, around three quarters of military charities are of the belief that the government is ‘not doing enough’ in regard to veteran support. 10% went further, suggesting that the government was ‘not doing anything’ to measurably support veterans in the UK – though a quarter of charities were under the impression that the government were on the right track with veteran support.
Mental Health Support Lacking
Mental health is a leading concern amongst veterans and veterans’ charities, owing to the significant presence of mental illness amongst ex-serving personnel. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is nearly twice as common in UK veterans than it is among the general public, with 7.4% of veterans suffering from the disorder according to data from the British Journal of Psychiatry.
But, despite severely increased instances of poor mental health among veterans – to say nothing of potential under-reporting in relation to mental health stigma within the armed forces – care and support has been found to be lacking. According to the Barometer, more than half of military charities believe that the armed forces are not doing enough to support veterans’ mental health. Not only this, but more than two thirds of charities are of the opinion that the government is not doing enough to support veterans’ mental health either.
Routes to Support
The findings are understandably distressing for military communities seeking support – and answers for their own experiences regarding lack of support following service to the country. But in-roads are being made to parity for veterans in the UK, as new schemes and programmes seek to redress the balance.
One of the more high-profile initiatives announced by the government in this regard relates to veterans’ health. The government has opened a £5 million fund to canvas for cutting-edge healthcare innovations, ranging from specific surgical advancements relating to combat injuries to the use of technology to predict and affect long-term health outcomes for the severely and chronically injured. This fund is one step of many, but if it is enough for veterans remains to be seen.