Normally, I am somebody that stays away from the blame game. Indeed for some time I have avoided it like the plague in favour of just trying to find solutions as to why there is a suicide outbreak in Armed Forces and Veterans.
However, today things have changed somewhat. The Sunday Times, today, has gone public with an awful lot of truth and trying to raise awareness for this extremely sad issue and I thank them whole heartedly for it. As a result, just about the rest of the UK media world has picked up on the story. Absolutely great, I’m a happy man… Until the reply came from parliament.
“Our Armed Forces do a magnificent job and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to each man and woman who has laid their life on the line to keep our country safe. Most transition successfully into civilian life once they have put away their uniforms, but we cannot afford to be complacent. Mental health problems can affect us all and the wellbeing of our people remains a top priority.”
Here is my issue with that. That exact same line has been used constantly over the past year and it is now starting to get my back up. The more that line is used, the less faith veterans have in the system. Yes I know money is being spent, especially in the TILS and CTS but it is not good enough. Another line is, “We can’t comment on individual cases”. Well, comment on this one. One of the veteran suicides that we reported on contacted the TILS service a few weeks ago and he was referred to the NHS 111 service. A few days later he was dead. He was not listened to. Despite what success there has been with the system, this was a catastrophic failure. But this is not the only failure. I won’t go on record with further evidence but there are many flaws in this system that keep getting pointed out to us by the men and women on the ground, not those in shiny seats that don’t see what is going on.
Here are a few facts. All of which we have solid, concrete evidence of.
Firstly, the amount of Armed Forces and Veterans who have committed suicide this year is not 42. It’s actually 55. Sensitivity means we cannot publish names and details but this is a fact.
Secondly, the report released recently following the study by Kings college was on 9,000 veterens. I’m sorry to say this but there are 2.5 million veterans in the country of working age. i.e. 16-64. How the hell can statistics of veterans be accurately made when they’ve only looked at 0.36% of the veterans population. In short this is why the figures are not as bad as people think and the issue can be normalised.
According to the recent report around 7% of veterans have mental health issues. Well, think again! Take a look at this report which was released by the MOD in October 2016. In particular, look at the health charts and figure out how many veterans have mental health issues. Then take a look at the civilian equivelant. It will make for some pretty shocking and revealing reading. Remember, this document is from the MOD released two years ago.
The simple fact is that the veterans issue is being played down. Now, I’m going to go back to my original way of thinking here and not push blame. I don’t like it. I hate pointing fingers and screwing up peoples lives. I have more decency than that I hope.
So I will ask again, it’s time to stop hiding behind these awful pre-planned political answers, be human, have the same courage that our Armed Forces and Veterans have shown in defending this country, face the issue openly and let’s all finally stand together and get the problem sorted out.
We are going to stop at nothing to help veterans anyway we can. Our Tommy Atkins Centre is about to start working online to try to reach as many as possible along with Dr David Muss, Founder of the Rewind Trauma Therapy. They will be there whenever our brothers and sisters need help. But we won’t be able to do it all on our own.
The time has come…