Sunday, 28 March 2010
SUPPORTING OUR SOLDIERS
Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Elfyn Llwyd MP was absolutely right to question the New Labour Government about the levels of assistance given to former service personnel facing drug problems following their eviction from the forces. Mr Llwyd asked the question of the Veterans Minister Kevan Jones about the services that are available to former service personnel thrown out of the forces for use of illegal substances. The answer received from the government was that no support mechanism is in place - which just about sums up the attitude of the current New Labour Government towards our veterans and serving soldiers.
Mr Llwyd who launched Plaid’s ‘Support for Veterans’ policy discussion document which called for a separate strategic review of expenditure spent on personnel leaving the forces to be conducted. The paper also outlines current areas of deficiency such as the lack of welfare support available and rising numbers of veterans ending up in the Criminal Justice system or with drug and alcohol problems.
Following on from the spiralling cost of military procurement and the government’s inability to keep within its budget, especially over the war in Afghanistan, Mr Llwyd is campaigning for priority to be given to veteran welfare.
Plaid’s Elfyn Llwyd MP said:
“This situation is absolutely shocking. Former service personnel often find themselves in the situation where they turn to alcohol and drug abuse as a direct result of their time in the forces.
“I do not dispute the fact that they should have to leave the forces but what is lacking here is a duty of care towards them. Very often these problems come around because of the unique and intense combat situations soldiers find themselves in. The situation is only set to get worse in coming years given the sheer volume of personnel involved in wars.
“Military hospitals are already stretched with the numbers of wounded coming back from Afghanistan for example. Where is the funding that will deal with after care for the large numbers of veterans and their very wide ranging mix of needs? Veterans need access to a wide range of treatment services including mental health.
“I’ve said before that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to identifying, or treating, PTSD and other mental health problems associated with the after-effects of time spent in a combat zone.
“Soldiers thrown out of the forces for drug abuse are often only at the start of this vicious cycle which can lead to a life of addiction, crime or homelessness. Their situation is unique because of the situations they’ve been through and this government needs to be doing more to nip such problems in the bud.”