Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Cameron to make veterans a priority

Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to Russ Roberts, who served in the Army in Northern Ireland
Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to Russ Roberts, who served in the Army in Northern Ireland
Prime Minister David Cameron studied the artwork of Russ Roberts at Tyrwhitt House in Surrey

The Prime Minister has met veterans suffering the mental scars of battle and said helping them is a "priority".

David Cameron has made the comments after speaking to ex-servicemen suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related conditions at a centre in Leatherhead, Surrey.

After helping some make poppies ahead of Remembrance Sunday, the PM said the mental health of those who have served in the Armed Forces needed to be taken "much more seriously".

The visit to a centre set up by the charity Combat Stress comes days after Defence Secretary Liam Fox announced new services for veterans. A 24-hour helpline and additional mental health nurses have been pledged under the new provisions.

The Prime Minister has said the move was needed, even though it comes at a time when Government departments are under pressure to find spending cuts.

He said: "It is a priority to do more to help the mental health issues that veterans in our country have.

"The fact is, for many people the mental scars that they have from the time they have served can be as serious or sometimes even worse than the physical scars and we need to take it much more seriously as a country."

Just how much additional support helps those suffering from mental health problems associated with their time serving their country has been brought home to the PM.

Touring the centre, which cares for 30 patients at any one time, Mr Cameron spoke to those still suffering flashbacks and depression resulting from their time fighting in places such as Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.

Combat Stress currently helps around 4,400 ex-servicemen and women at three treatment centres in the UK.

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