CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Neglect of war veterans makes MP weep

23 November, 2018 — By John Gulliver

Anne-Marie Trevelyan. Photo: www.teamtrevelyan.co.uk

AN MP broke down and wept in the Commons last week while reading a letter from the anguished wife of an Afghan veteran that one day, she feared, would be “collated by a coroner” – in short because the ex-soldier had committed suicide.

I understood the emotions that must have been running through the MP, Anne Marie Trevelyan, because as the numbers rise of homeless sleeping in doorways it is clear a disproportionate number are army veterans on the downward path.

The MP was taking part in a debate on veterans who are largely ignored in this country once they have left the service. In other countries, veterans come under government departments – in this respect the US is leading the way – but here they are forgotten as they drift through life without the special help so badly needed, especially those suffering from “conflict trauma”.

The word “veterans” cover a wide range of men and women – and can include most personnel who never see active battlefront service. But it is those on active service, often engaged in hand-to-hand fighting – a small minority – where mental casualties are mostly found.

A reader last week was conflating the two when he cited the number of veterans in a particular conflict. Statistics claimed by those who contend that, for instance, in the Falklands war as many committed suicide as were killed in the war, would be referring to those who were at the “front”, a small minority of the total involved in the war.

Mrs Trevelyan was referring to the battlefront veterans – and their plight made her weep.

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