A few years ago, the US Veterans Administration, along with the White House released the shocking figures that, on average, 22 Veterans a day were taking their lives. Shocking yes, but at the end of the day, reality. One thing comes to mind while saying that, we cannot fix what’s going wrong unless we face reality first. Yes, the figures literally rocked the world but at least they had the balls to be honest about the problem. It is not fixed yet, although those numbers have fallen slightly but at least it is a start.
We now have to look at the problem in the UK. In short, despite so many shouting at the MoD and the Government to address this issue, very little has been done. It has even stated that the rate of suicides among UK veterans is comperable to that of civilian statistics. I would love to know how that was calculated.
However, the truth is, the MoD and Government do not know the truth. Why? because Veteran suicides are not recorded in the UK. In fact, until this year, it was not a requirement for GP’s to state that their patients were Ex-Armed Forces or not, despite a system being set up to do this with the NHS back in 2011 when the Armed Forces Covenant was set up. In 2016, research showed that most GP surgery’s were not even aware of the system.
Of course, this is not news to readers of this platform as we constantly push this issue. Many of our veterans who have tragically taken their lives simply go unnoticed and unrecorded. In fact, I think I will be so bold as to say most of them. This is also the same for those suffering with PTSD and other Combat Trauma related issues.
Are we as severe as the US in equivilent? Who knows but I think we can safely say it is alot worse than we are told.
So what is the answer? Again, I am not that clever to be able to sort the problem myself but I do think first and foremost the MoD and UK Government finally need to have the balls to admit the problem and be honest with it. Not for a witch hunt, not to name and shame, not to be political but simply to get to the heart of the problem and get it sorted so no more veterans end up as a hidden statistic. The US did it, why can’t we.
What is the truth? The truth is, we are not being told the truth.
So my final comment is aimed directly at the MoD, Government and NHS. Get these measures in place, not only to prevent veterans suicides but also to combat other issues such as PTSD. Most importantly, make it law. Not an option, with penalties for those who do not comply. That way, the truth will be revealed, we will see the reality of the problem, no matter how severe and we will finally be able to see how to fix it.