Support for veterans for the emerging situation in Afghanistan
The news from Afghanistan will significantly impact many people in our armed forces and veterans community. The Military Veterans' Service for Lancashire [add appropriate Fylde and Wyre service] are there to support you and any mental health difficulties you may be experiencing.
Strong emotional reactions are normal and there is no right or wrong way to feel about the emerging situation.
This on-going situation may bring on distress, memories and dreams, particularly if you were deployed to Afghanistan, served with colleagues who were deployed, or are a family member of someone who was deployed. For some people, this news may bring very intense feelings.
If you are located in the North West and need support, the Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) is a community service for ex-serving personnel and those transitioning out of the armed forces (with a discharge date). This offers a single point of entry, assessment and brief intervention to veterans who are experiencing mental health difficulties. You can contact the service on 0300 323 0707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Helpful things to do
1. Have a plan of things to do that you enjoy, bring you comfort or relaxation or occupy your mind
2. Take time to reflect in your own way – everyone deals with things differently
3. Ground yourself – use your sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell to ground yourself.
4. Check in with others who may be struggling but make sure you still take care of yourself
5. Think about how much time you spend watching the news or on social media, switch them off if it isn’t helping
6. Spend time with people you care about
7. Talk to someone you trust if you want to, but don’t feel you have to
8. Get exercise and eat well
9. Keeping in a routine can be helpful
10. Take off any unnecessary pressures
24/7 mental health support is available from:
• Text ‘Shout’ to 85258
• Samaritans: 116 123
• Combat Stress: 0800 138 1619
• Immediate risk of danger to life - dial 999
• Struggling to keep yourself safe - Call NHS 111 or attend the nearest Mental Health Urgent Assessment Centre or local A&E
East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust has been named as a Veteran Aware Trust in recognition of its commitment to improving NHS care for veterans, reservists, members of the armed forces and their families.
The accreditation, from the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VC HA), acknowledges the trust’s commitment to a number of key pledges, including:
- Ensuring that the armed forces community is never disadvantaged compared to other patients, in line with the NHS’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant.
- Training relevant staff on veteran specific culture or needs;
- Making veterans, reservists and service families aware of appropriate charities or NHS services beneficial to them, such as mental health services or support with financial and/or benefit claims;
- Supporting the armed forces as an employer
ELHT is now one of 69 members of the VC HA and is part of a growing number of NHS Trusts gaining this accolade.
Kate Quinn, Operational Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development for the Trust said:
“Here at ELHT we strive to be an exemplar of the best care for veterans and their families. We actively encourage all patients and staff to let us know if they currently serve or have ever served in the UK armed forces so that we can best support their needs.
“A number of our staff are veterans or currently serve in the Reserve Forces. This helps give us a real insight into how we can tailor our care to best suit the needs of our veterans, armed forces personnel and their families.
“We are extremely proud to support our veterans and to be acknowledged as a Veteran Aware Trust.”
Trusts recognised as Veteran Aware will display posters in their clinics and public waiting areas urging anyone who has served in the armed forces to make themselves known to staff.
The VC HA was inspired by the heroism of Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse VC, a doctor who gave his life rescuing men on the battlefields of the First World War.
In 2014, leading orthopaedic surgeon Professor Tim Briggs CBE wrote The Chavasse Report on improving armed forces and veteran care while raising NHS standards, which recommended establishing a support network of hospitals. The resulting VCHA works closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement, service charities and the Ministry of Defence.
Professor Briggs, NHS National Director for Clinical Improvement and co-chair of the VCHA, said: “These trusts should be very proud of the commitment they have made to the service men and women of this country. Welcoming them into the Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance is a major step towards our aim of ensuring every NHS trust in the country is Veteran Aware.”
General Lord Richard Dannatt, Patron of the VC HA and former head of the British Army, said: “Although the British Armed Forces are not currently engaged in high profile campaigns such as in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, the health and wellbeing battles for many veterans continue. The VCHA is playing a major part in helping our brave veterans win their personal battles. “