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Plight of Scots ex-servicemen revealed in survey

By newadmin / Published on Wednesday, 03 Dec 2014 09:36 AM / No Comments / 54 views

David GrahamALAN SIMPSON

David Graham, a veteran,believes soldiers should be offered more support

It highlights the plight of “a significant minority” of veterans trying to cope with civilian life.

It is estimated that around 20,000 Scottish veterans of working age are unemployed, while 60,000 have mobility problems.

More than half suffer from long-term health complaints, such as musculo- skeletal, cardiovascular and respiratory problems.

One in 10 reported suffering from a mental health problem, such as depression, anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder.

One in seven attributes their health problems to their military service.

The study, by the charity Poppyscotland, found that around 35,000 veterans have experienced employment problems, because, compared to their peers, they are “less likely to be degree educated, or to be able to use their skills and past experience”.

Although 64 per cent of veterans are retired, those of working age were found to be 16 per cent less likely to be in work than their peers.

Almost a quarter survive on an annual household income of less than £7,500.

The number of those struggling to cope is also likely to be far higher, as an estimated 15,000-30,000 veterans living in places such as hostels, residential homes, hospitals and prisons were not included in the study.

Scottish ex-Service pensioner community express slightly greater social isolation than the UK

The report states: “The picture is of a Scottish ex-Service pensioner community expressing slightly greater social isolation due to ill-health or lack of support than their counterparts in the UK ex-Service community.”

Poppyscotland says the survey may prove vital in shaping how the Government and charities direct support towards ex-servicemen.

The charity’s Head of Welfare Services, Gary Gray, said: “The findings show the size of Scotland’s ex-Service community and the difficulties experienced. 

“While the vast majority thrive in civilian life, a significant minority struggle and are likely to experience multiple and complex needs.  Poppyscotland already provides a number of vital services to support those in the Armed Forces community.

“But it’s clear that more must be done to address their current and future needs.”

The survey also found that one in eight ex-servicemen has an unmet need for support, while one in six said they could benefit from welfare support services from Poppyscotland.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government has a significant record of successful initiatives designed to improve access to public services and meet the needs and aspirations of our ex-service community. 

“The recent appointment of Eric Fraser as Scotland’s inaugural Veterans Commissioner, the first role of its kind in the UK, is working to improve the lives of veterans, by engaging with, listening to and acting on their experience.

“Our national mental health strategy is also delivering a range of benefits for veterans, including faster access to psychological therapies and a £1.2million specialist mental health service for veterans in partnership with NHS Scotland and Combat Stress.”

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