Charity highlights ex-service personnel mental health issues

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Many service personnel are still fighting their own personal war many years after the actual fighting has stopped.

And this is where the voluntary charity TimeBank can help. The charity was set up to help military personnel who are struggle to move on from the military and settle into civilian life. Issues affecting ex-service personnel can range from financial hardship, homelessness, alcohol dependency and health problems.

A new inititative run by the charity called Shoulder to Shoulder was recently launch at Westminster to highlight the issues with TimeBank’s boss Helen Walker calling for greater partnership working between military and civilian charities.

Speaking at the launch of the report Ms. Walker said: “Many service veterans are in a state of crisis in their lives, with complex problems including financial hardship, homelessness, alcohol dependency and health issues. The struggle for them is to move on from the military and settle into civilian life, so support from both military and civilian charities, working in partnership, is vital to address their range of needs. We need to ensure we work together so that each veteran gets the support they need, whoever is delivering it.”

Shoulder to Shoulder Erskine is a two-year volunteer mentoring programme for ex-service men and women and their families in Glasgow and Edinburgh, delivered by TimeBank in partnership with the Scottish veterans’ charity Erskine. It is funded by The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) and the Henry Smith Charity and draws on TimeBank’s extensive experience of delivering volunteer mentoring projects that support vulnerable people through difficult transitions in their lives.

Shoulder to Shoulder Erskine recruits and trains volunteers to provide one to one mentoring support to veterans who are recovering from mental health issues or struggling to adjust to life after the military.

The Armed Forces community in Scotland numbers half a million - 10 per cent of the population - suffer from long-term illness or disability. In addition; adult members of the ex-service community are more likely to live alone.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust said: “Mental health is one of the key challenges that ex-Service personnel can face when coming out of the Armed Forces. A better understanding of these challenges, and how best they can be overcome is invaluable to helping ex-Service personnel and their families have successful transitions into civilian life. The Trust welcomes the findings of the evaluation of this pilot project and we look forward to seeing how this work develops in the future.”