Government pledges funds to assist mental health needs of veterans

The government has pledged to make additional funds available to assist with the mental health needs of individuals who used to serve in the British armed forces.

Health Minister Paul Burstow has announced that the extra money is to be provided across 2011 and 2012 and will enable the recruitment of 30 full-time equivalent professionals to help meet these requirements.

The politician explained that there is now an armed forces network present in every region throughout England.

He observed these networks "will determine in detail how these additional staff are to be deployed, to deliver better mental health care to the armed forces, their families and veterans".

Last month, Veterans Minister Andrew Robathan confirmed that Dr Andrew Murrison's Fighting Fit report had been accepted by the government.

The proposal suggested mental health services for both veterans and those currently serving in the military are set to improve - including trials for enhanced surveillance of mental health symptoms during routine medicals.

Chartered Psychologist Dr Nigel Hunt said: "This is very good news for ex-service personnel and their families. It has been an uphill struggle to convince the government, the NHS and the MoD that there is a need for such a service."

"In the past the delivery of appropriate services to veterans has been rather ad hoc, with pockets of good practice across the country and areas where there has been limited help."

"The problem was often that NHS personnel didn't have adequate experience of dealing with war trauma, particularly the fact that people often become traumatised months or years after they have completed their service."

"For this reason, the surveillance for mental health symptoms will be particularly useful for veterans."