MOD chiefs are being urged to implement a 24 hr help line for serving military forces. In the past 10 years the number of confirmed PTSD cases for serving troops has almost doubled, and to date over 400 serving soldiers have taken their own lives since 1995. Growing calls for a 24/7 helpline for troops is now backed by Chantelle Taylor, a former Army medic who served in Afghanistan.
The most recent suicide was an Afghanistan veteran, Warrant Officer Nathan Hunt of the Royal Engineers. Chantelle, like many others believes enough is enough now, and is backing The Mail On Sundays campaign for round the clock care, to include a 24/7 helpline to be available to all serving sailors, airmen and soldiers suffering from PTSD.
In addition to the helpline, Chantelle would also like to see routine testing implemented for psychological issues. This is already implemented in the US. It stands to reason that fitness is already measured, so mental health should be also.
Tens of thousands of troops who have served in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and/or Iraq are still serving. For as long as they remain in uniform the MOD are responsible for their welfare. These forces deserve a service staffed by military experts who are vetted, cleared and supported by a nationwide network of first responders.
Existing helplines run by charities are not designed for serving personnel, yet serving persons still reach out to them as there is currently nowhere else for them to go. These helplines are not currently integrated into the MOD’s mental health care system, so soldiers are unable to speak to their allocated care team if they are already receiving treatment. The problem is not being tackled. It is also deplorable that traumatized troops are requested to visit their nearest A&E, when the MOD is better placed to provide carers with the necessary experience and affinity with combat troops than the NHS.
Officials who baulked at the spending of £2,000,000 for the helpline, which has the backing of former Army chief Lord Dannatt, should have surely considered that a worthy investment, having already invested so much in the training of their troops. Isn’t it madness to lose their troops to mental health issues?