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Defence Committee’s Report; praise, blame and PTSD.

The Defence Committee has published it’s Seventh Report entitled ‘The Armed Forces Covenant in Action? Part 1: Military Casualties.

The Report praises the MOD in its treatment and rehabilitation of injured personnel once they are evacuated from the battlefield, noting that our armed forces receive an “extraordinary quality of care”. It commends the Armed Forces Medical Services for the “improvement in all aspects of the medical treatment of injured personnel in theatre from emergency treatment by comrades and then the medical emergency response team followed by staff in the hospital and then evacuation back to the UK”.

It is not so generous however with praise in the areas of alcohol abuse or mental health issues.

The Report notes that, although the MOD has dedicated increasing amounts of attention to mental health support for veterans, primarily as a result of the recommendations of Dr Andrew Murrison in his 2010 report ‘Fighting Fit’ following which the “Big White Wall” online service was estanlished, the MOD still has some way to go. The recent establishment of a 24 hour helpline for veterans suffering from mental health issues (which received approximately 3000 calls in its first 4 months) highlights the fact that more effort still needs to be made to address this.

The Report also recommends that the MOD carry out a study into what is driving the misuse and abuse of alcohol in the Armed Forced which is 7% higher in the military than in the general population.

With the incidence of PTSD in the military currently stated to be between 3 and 4%, and the percentage of those abusing alcohol in the military at 13%, Dr Fear from Kings College in London has said, quite correctly based on the figures produced, that “not everybody who is misusing alcohol has got PTSD”. Indeed this may be true based on those figures, but let us not forget that there has always been, and continues to be, a high incidence of undiagnosed PTSD in the military; indeed if this were not a problem then, as military compensation claims specialists, our caseloads would be much smaller than they currently are.

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