East End MP welcomes increased support for Services Veterans

14 May 2009

The SNP Member of Parliament for Glasgow East, John Mason, has welcomed moves by the Scottish Government to improve the support available to ex-services personnel as they adapt to civilian life.

Mr Mason made his comments as the Scottish Government announced this week that it will, over the next two years, provide nearly 3 million to improve access to specialist mental health services.

These monies will be used to open a dedicated veterans treatment centre in Scotland and strengthen community outreach services actions which will make it easier for veterans living in Scotland who experience mental illness and psychological trauma connected to their time in the forces to combat stress.

The main centre is at Hollybush House in Ayr, and is run by veterans mental health charity Combat Stress.

The veterans treatment centre is the latest in a series of initiatives by the Scottish Government to increase support for ex-service personnel. Last month, it was announced that for the first time, a dedicated veteran’s hub would be piloted, to help those leaving the armed forces and their families to access specialist help and support to get into work, find a home and increase their wellbeing.

Key help available from the hub will include:

· Health – assessments and treatment with an on-site therapist for those experiencing illnesses such as post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression

· Education – advice on how to boost qualifications, secure funding and find the right academic or practical training course

· Employment – access to volunteering opportunities and information on looking for a paid job

· Housing – welfare advice and practical support to find the right place to live

· Social – linking veterans to other veterans and providing advice on getting involved in community projects and social events.

The hub will be staffed by peer support workers with military backgrounds, ensuring that the service will be run by veterans’, for veterans’. The pilot project will be based in Edinburgh and, if successful, similar hubs will be rolled out across Scotland.

Mr Mason, who is also the SNP’s Work & Pensions spokesman, said:

“We ask a lot of our service personnel when they are in uniform. Sadly, though, making the transition back into civilian life can be a big challenge, particularly for those with combat stress related illnesses.

“These new services will ensure that veterans – who are readjusting to civilian life – get the right help. Most important of all, it will mean that they are able to get support from other veterans who understand what they are going through.

“In the East End, and in Glasgow as a whole, there is a strong connection to the armed forces, with many of the communities in Glasgow East providing a higher than average number of recruits, particularly for the Army. There will be few people in the East End who do not know of someone serving in the armed forces.

” The SNP Government is committed to doing all that it can, in partnership with the Ministry of Defence and the wider veterans and armed forces community, to meet the needs of all of our servicemen and women, both past and present.

“We have already introduced a series of measures to improve the lives of veterans’ including priority NHS treatment and guidance for social landlords on allocating housing for veterans. Im sure we will continue to find new ways to provide support.

“Our service men and women are ordinary people who we ask to do an extraordinary job. I’m pleased that the duty of care we have towards them while in uniform is being extended in this way to help them prosper in civilian life as well. “