Since the two world wars our armed forces have put themselves in harm’s way again and again because we asked them to.
As a sign of our gratitude we have signed a covenant that is now enshrined in the Armed Force Act 2011. The military covenant states that soldiers could be called upon to make the “ultimate sacrifice” but in return they and their families will be “sustained and rewarded by commensurate terms and conditions of service”.
So as we think this week of those who have died and those who have become disabled as well as those who might require support in the future we can at least assure current members of our forces that as a token of our gratitude we will “reward and sustain” Correct?
Well no! Whilst with one hand the coalition government signs the covenant and passes the Armed Forces Act, with the other hand it passes another Act, the Health and Social Care Act 2012, that removes the duty for the Government to provide health care services.
Men and women returning from combat duty face, for example, mental health issues that are more complex than those faced by the population in general. PTSD ( post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms sometimes start presenting themselves decades later.
Professor Neil Greenberg, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, says he believes ministers are failing to honour the military covenant promise.
A key reason is the disproportionate way that mental health budgets have been affected by the cuts in the NHS budgets. Because of this GPs are now having to deal with issues beyond their competence and require specialist help.
As specialist treatments gets harder to access veterans start falling through the net. The future of our veterans does not bode well with the demise of our NHS.
National Health Action Party, PPC Sheffield Hallam