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Mental Health of Veterans

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:00 am on 11th March 2020.

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Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Armed Forces), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Defence) 11:00 am, 11th March 2020

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely correct, and I will come to that point later. I will deal first with the importance of peer-led support. One veteran, Mark Lister, who is a volunteer for Combat Stress in the highlands and who served as a forward observer in the Royal Artillery for 18 years, called me yesterday and relayed his personal experiences, which were most interesting. One thing he said that stood out was that there is a stark difference between the combat trauma experienced by a soldier or a service person, and the trauma experienced by a civilian.

In his classic, wonderfully frank highland manner, Mark said, “Jamie, only a veteran is going to know how to help another veteran. We don’t want to get bogged down in the trivia of military maps. We don’t want to go through explaining all that stuff. We just want to speak about our trauma with someone who knows and gets what it’s like”. He is absolutely right, because most of us will never understand what our veterans have been through. That is why some of the best care available comes in the form of peer-to-peer support. Alas, cuts to the NHS have made it harder for such services to exist, never mind to be set up in the first place.