Deaths from suicide have been dubbed the “epidemic of our time” by military officials. Over the past two months, 14 former and serving British military personnel are thought to have taken their own lives. It is likely that many of those individuals suffered from the delayed onset of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Considering those tragic events, the United Kingdom Government has brought forward its plans for a high-intensity mental health programme. Can the First Minister confirm whether there are any plans to provide a similar mental health programme in Scotland to help our veterans with serious service-related illnesses such as PTSD?
I am glad that the UK Government is taking seriously what is, of course, principally its responsibility, given the reserved nature of the issue. The Scottish Government also takes it very seriously. The health—mental and physical—of our veterans is of paramount importance. I have appointed a veterans minister—Graeme Dey has that responsibility—and we have a veterans commissioner. We do a range of work to support our veterans, and that is absolutely right and proper.
The work that we do to support veterans in Scotland has been widely commended and praised.
I am very happy to ask Graeme Dey, as the veterans minister, to correspond with or indeed meet the member to discuss what more we can do in Scotland to support our veterans, who absolutely deserve not just our appreciation but our on-going support, and, of course, our encouragement to continue to make a contribution to society after they leave our armed forces.