On its 95th anniversary, Combat Stress, the UK’s leading Veterans’ mental health charity, has today revealed new figures showing a substantial increase in Afghanistan Veterans seeking mental health support. The statistics highlight a 57% increase in Afghanistan Veterans seeking Combat Stress’ support from 2012 to 2013. Combat Stress received 358 new Afghanistan Veteran referrals in 2013, compared to 228 in 2012. Combat Stress currently has a caseload of over 660 Afghanistan Veterans.
With troops withdrawing from all but two bases in Afghanistan’s Helmand province in March this year, the number of Veterans needing treatment is likely to continue to increase.
Combat Stress, founded 95 years ago after the First World War, provides specialist clinical treatment and welfare support to all UK Veterans suffering from psychological injuries. The charity currently spends nearly £14 million per annum to deliver its unique range of services to Veterans suffering from mental ill-health.
Combat Stress has found that, on average, Veterans wait 13 years after leaving Service before seeking their help but this has fallen to an average of eighteen months for Afghanistan Veterans. The charity is seeking to raise awareness of the issues Veterans face in this, its 95th year of operation.
With a current caseload of over 5,400 across the UK, more Veterans than at any time in its history, Combat Stress puts ex-Service men and women at the heart of its work, which includes free clinical treatment programmes at its specialist centres, community and outreach support, occupational therapy and a 24-hour helpline, 0800 138 1619.
Commodore Andrew Cameron, Chief Executive of Combat Stress, said:
“A small, yet significant number of Veterans who serve in the Armed Forces each year continue to relive the horrors they experienced on the frontline. Day in, day out, they battle these hidden psychological wounds, often tearing families apart in the process.
“Twenty per cent of Veterans are likely to suffer from mental ill-health. They have faced unique challenges and require – and deserve – specialist support to help them overcome these challenges.
“However, with demand for our services already surging, Combat Stress faces a real challenge in continuing to provide our unique life changing clinical treatment and support services to those who need it.
“We are planning for services at or above the current level for at least the next five years, and we do not expect to see demand for support tail-off in the near future.
“We have had great support from the Government and the public over recent years and we simply could not operate without the generosity we have experienced.
“We cannot allow the ex-Service men and women who suffer from the invisible injuries of war to go unnoticed and untreated. This is an unnecessary drain on society and our Veterans and families deserve better.”
Watch Dr Walter Busuttil, Director of Medical Services at Combat Stress, and Afghanistan Veteran Jake Wood discuss the effect mental ill-health has on ex-Service men and women http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBjrRjbFrBQ&feature=youtu.be