Petition launched calling for more mental health support for veterans - how you can help
and live on Freeview channel 276
The Fight of Our Lives: Reform Mental Health Support for Veterans petition calls on the Government to take three steps to help ex-servicemen and women seeks support and establish the true picture of the problem.
Led by East Durham Veterans’ Trust, it suggests coroners record if someone who took their own life had served.
It also says veterans should be given an annual mental health check up for the first three years after they leave, with screening for conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and rapid intervention for anyone who needs it.
The Parliamentary petition was set up by Dave McKenna, trust trustee, leader of the Seaham Remember Them Fund, with more than 2,400 names added so far.
Dave, who served as a Colour Sergeant in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, said: “During the last 10 years we have seen an overwhelming increase in suicide cases in veterans.
“We want the Government to do something about it because we know it has shot up, but there are no statistics, and if you don’t know the true picture, how can you do anything about it?
"We also want to raise awareness of mental health and let people know we can help.
"We’ve called it Fight of Our Lives and that’s it, they really are fighting to save their own lives.”
Fellow trust member Andy Cammiss, who spent 13 years in the Royal Corps of Signals, said the organisation was aware of six veteran suicides this year, four in the North East, with many leaving the Armed Forces left struggling to organise their money, bills, housing and employment as they set out in civilian life.
He said: “It is a massive problem with veterans and any who come forward for help can be waiting for months for help.
"We hope the petition will really make a difference and getting help early is key.”
The trust is able to host help sessions for up to 15 people under lockdown rules at its base at Dawdon Youth and Community Centre and has been working with organisations such as Anxious Minds to help vets seek support.