Combat Stress: Supporting Veterans with PTSD
All too often, we are approached by clients who have been suffering from the effects of PTSD for years without a proper diagnosis, as a result of failures to identify the need for support from unsympathetic or unobservant chains of command and/or medical professionals. The crisis they find themselves in often escalates after they have been discharged from the military without any support and are left to continue battling with their symptoms alone. Eventually they find themselves faced with civilian GPs who may or may not understand their need for specialist treatment, which in itself is sparsely available under the NHS.
This is precisely why the work of mental health charities such as Combat Stress is vital to veterans from the armed forces.
Combat Stress was originally established in 1919, during a time when very little credence was given to mental health issues in the armed forces. However, the founding members believed that veterans could be helped to cope with what was known as “shell shock” through a rehabilitation programme rather than being left to languish in Mental War Hospitals or worse still, asylums.
Almost a century later, Combat Stress has grown into a national charity, providing support to almost 6,000 veterans suffering from an array of mental health problems including PTSD, anxiety and depression. They run a 24-hour helpline providing support and advice to both serving and former military personnel and reservists. They also operate a number of Community Support Teams nationwide and have three residential treatment centres where lengthier, intensive treatment programmes are available to help veterans cope with the traumas they have suffered.
On a recent visit to one such centre, Tyrwhitt House in Surrey, I was struck by the attention paid to every aspect of the residents needs. The physical surroundings are designed with the aim of ensuring that residents have a feeling of space and security. There is a multi-disciplinary approach to the treatment provided including the availability of specific targeted programmes for PTSD, Anger Management, Alcohol and Substance Misuse and more. In addition to focusing on traditional forms of therapy, residents have access to group counseling sessions, family sessions and there is 24 hour access to an Occupational Therapy Building where individuals can do anything from art to woodwork, music, and cooking. Residents families are engaged throughout the process and follow up support is available post-discharge right up until the individual feels comfortable that they are able to function independently.
As with many charities doing such important work, Combat Stress has limited resources which can only reach a certain proportion of the veterans who desperately need support. Their commitment to continuing to provide such vital support to the men and women who serve our country in the most dangerous of circumstances and allowing these individuals to try and lead normal, meaningful lives after traumas of the greatest degree is nothing short of admirable.
I highly encourage any support you can give to this valuable charity and I am proud that we at Bolt Burdon Kemp are able to support their work.
I am a solicitor at Bolt Burdon Kemp specialising in military claims. If you think you have suffered an injury that could have been avoided, you can contact me free of charge and in confidence on 020 7288 4846 or at GagganMawi@boltburdonkemp.co.uk. Alternatively, you can complete this form and one of the solicitors in the team will contact you. You can find out more about the Military team.