This addition to the Overcoming series is aimed at military veterans, their families (who are often primary care givers), and accredited therapists who may be less familiar with issues particular to this client group. This text will help the reader understand what they can be doing to help themselves when faced with common difficulties or issues related to being a military veteran.
With over 5.5 million military veterans of the British Armed Forces, and double that figure of partners and dependents, the military veteran community is very large. From the 2010 'fighting fit' report authored by Andrew Murrison on behalf of the government, to the 2011 Armed Forces Community Covenant, the mental health needs of military veterans has been recognised as requiring more than is routinely available. With numbers experiencing psychological difficulties being at least as frequent as those in the general population, the numbers are high. Research consistently shows how for certain sub groups, such as 'early service leavers' and those deployed in combat roles, rates of poor mental health significantly increases.
There are in excess of 2000 charities and third sector organisations in the UK that offer support to this population. In addition to the NHS (for mental and physical health), and the voluntary sector, military veterans pose particular issues to the local authorities, social services, housing, drug and alcohol services, and the criminal justice system. Veterans often avoid treatment and support they would benefit from, due to various issues of stigma, shame and guilt.