Working hard for you
Labour is calling on the Government to introduce a £1m research fund for veterans’ ‘legacy issues’ from Afghanistan and Iraq, with a particular focus on mental health. Charities would be able to bid for the funds to support long-term policy research in this area.
Alison Seabeck MP said:
“We have a duty of care to our armed forces. They need support not just whilst they are serving but also when they leave the services. This is a time when many are most vulnerable to mental health problems, coping with the return to civilian life whilst adjusting to injuries both seen and unseen obtained during military service. Funding for long term research would show a real commitment to the welfare of our troops who risk their lives on a daily basis to keep our shores safe”.
This would be funded by rebalancing our Services. Our Forces are ‘top heavy’ and while the Government says they are cutting the top “in broad proportion” to cuts to personnel throughout the Forces we believe they should go further at the top to tackle rather than perpetuate the imbalance.
In-service support is the rightly the focus for welfare provision, but we are concerned that there is a potentially long time lag between leaving the services and experiencing mental health problems, and an increasing number are at risk. We therefore want to see meaningful work on improving long-term, post-service support.
Jim Murphy MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, said:
“We must prevent an epidemic of invisible injury.
“The country owes it to all those who have served to provide real post-service support. Whether in dealing with mental or physical injury, depression or stress, the courage shown by service personnel is not just on the battlefield but in recovering from the long term affects of conflict.
“With thousands having experience of Iraq and Afghanistan legacy issues are more important than ever. The Government's rushed defence review had just two pages on service welfare and we are determined that that never happens again. Charities must be enabled to work on the solutions which are currently lacking.
“It is right and necessary that the Government corrects the imbalances in our Forces by making real savings at the top. By redistributing part of this saving to serve veterans we're showing this is a real priority for Labour.”
A spokesperson for the Royal British Legion said:
“The Royal British Legion welcomes the hugely important debate of how the nation will support our Armed Forces, veterans and their families after operations in Afghanistan have drawn to a close.
“The Armed Forces community is facing a "perfect storm" of health and welfare needs in coming years as the legacy of Afghanistan and Iraq combine with defence cuts and strains on public sector support. It is the nation’s obligation under the Armed Forces Covenant to ensure that these issues are addressed in a comprehensive manner providing for long-term and meaningful support.
“For many of our brave Armed Forces, their injuries – both visible and invisible – will have a lifelong impact. As a nation, we must prepare to support them now, whilst the sacrifices our Service personnel are making are at the forefront of the public’s mind. Issues relating to the legacy of the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq may not be immediately obvious – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, for example, takes an average of 13 years to become evident. We therefore welcome this debate and call on all parties to work together on constructive solutions.