On Remembrance Sunday we fall silent to honour those who sacrificed so much in defence of this nation – servicemen and women who fell in the First World War, through to those killed in recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We must also spare a thought for those who returned from the front line with life-changing injuries. A small but significant minority of those who served in the UK Armed Forces have been affected by mental health conditions. An invisible injury, it can be debilitating for the veteran as they relive their battles long after the war has ended.
Combat Stress was founded almost 100 years ago to support the thousands of soldiers who returned from the First World War with shell shock. Misunderstood and accused of being weak, they received little support from the country but our charity was then formed to provide them with respite care to help them overcome the unimaginable horrors they had experienced in battle.
In the last decade we have seen a 143% increase in referrals; this rise in veterans contacting us for help is a good indication that the stigma of mental health is reducing. Today we receive more than 2,000 referrals each year from veterans struggling with their mental health.
So as we mark this Remembrance Sunday we invite you to honour not just those the country has lost, but to think about the veterans who are in need of support. Together we can reach out to more people in need and give them a brighter future, free from the harmful effects of mental health conditions.
Combat Stress' 24-hour helpline provides free, confidential mental health advice and support for veterans and their families. If you or a loved one needs support, please call 0800 138 1619 or text 07537 404 719.