This week has been one of the biggest in my life. Some years ago, I swore that at some point, before I shuffle off this mortal coil, I would help veterans to get the help that I didn’t get. This week that dream became a reality and I fulfilled my vow. To put it simply, I wanted a specific place set up where veterans could get help professionally, speak to other veterans who understood their pain and just have somewhere to go where they felt safe and where they felt they belonged to.
Magically, I met up with a fantastic Combat Stress Regional Coordinator. His task at present is to set up a brand new Peer Mentoring Service. In our area (Worcester), this will compliment the Combat Stress Community Group Workshops, which, I have to say, are outstanding. This WILL help a community of veterans which, up to a year ago were not even being registered with the NHS.
Three passionate minds have managed to create a Veterans Centre. Our Combat Stress man, Adrian, a psychologist who works in a charity in Worcester and myself. All it took was a few conversations, a couple of ideas but most of all, a few people who cared. Within the veterans centre, there are facilities beyond my dreams. Apart from a purpose built room for the CS workshop, there is a one-2-one counselling room, a dark room where a veteran can go to get some time out, a recreation room and a Veterans Creative Workshop. Everything we need to help Veterans get their lives back on track. It’s very new and lots of lessons will be learned, mistakes will be made and not everything will be perfect but it is a huge step forward. It will be hosted by Combat Stress and supported by The Sandbag Times.
I’m sure you will agree this is brilliant, and it truly is. Here lies my gripe for this week. If normal guys with a bit of passion can make so much happen in one place then what is happening in relation to the Armed Forces Covenant and Community Covenant? I know there are places around the UK that are proactive with the Community Covenant and I know this is not the first Veterans centre to be set up but it was done by a few people that wanted to just help others. Not for office, not for money, not for duty and not to further themselves or make themselves look good, just to help. The Armed Forces Covenant is a major organisation that is ‘committed’ to helping the Armed Forces and Veterans Community. The thing is, the things that are really needed are slow to get passed down, get wrapped up in political issues or in some cases, just ignored. Combat Stress, have nearly been brought to their knees with a huge increase in veterans needing help and having their funding massively cut, staff are stretched to the limit, their centres are under huge pressure and their waiting lists, through no fault of their own are getting longer and longer, yet nothing is being realistically done to ease the tension. Why can’t the real answers be seen by those in power. Don’t wrap these issues up in politics, find a few people with a bit of motivation, let them look at their local issues, let them decide a realistic plan and then bloody support them. Instead of paying shitloads of cash to pat the Directors and Ivory Tower Monkeys on the back, give it to the communities to look after the veterans. fund the buildings, fund the psychologists, give a bit more to Combat Stress, and stop giving them unrealistic hoops to jump through. We have proved it’s possible. I, personally, don’t have two pennies to rub together at the moment, it never mattered, We haven’t filled out a sheet of paper in making this happen, we simply just spoke to each other in a positive way. UK, learn a lesson. If you want to help your veterans, then do it, don’t sit on your arses, around tables for days brainstorming, get out there and do it. Enough said!!!