Today is the Day of Remembrance, and this Sunday I will be at the Sheffield War Memorial at Barker’s Pool for the Remembrance Sunday ceremony.
Alongside many others I will take time to reflect on the huge debt we owe our many servicemen and women, who have fought t to keep people safe and protect the freedoms of people in the UK and all over the world.
For many, we associate the symbol of the poppy that we wear every November, with the First and Second World Wars, but it is just as important to remember the heroes from all generations and fighting today and think about some of the problems they are still facing.
Combat Stress, a mental health charity that offers help to current and former service people with mental health problems, says that the number of veterans needing help for mental health problems such as PTSD has jumped by 71 per cent in the past five years in the aftermath of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns. The horrors that our soldiers still witness on a daily basis, the loss of comrades and the long periods spent away from ‘normal’ civilian life can take a serious toll on a person’s mental health.
Far too often, the mental health problems of veterans lead to issues with drink and drugs; they can even lead to homelessness. The stigma around mental health as weakness is particularly damaging for service people who have been trained to be tough and is an obstacle in getting assistance when they need it most.
I’m really proud of the Liberal Democrats’ record in Government on mental health. We made a start on breaking down these barriers which stand in the way of people getting help. We brought in the first waiting times for NHS mental health treatment, set up the first ever Mental Health Taskforce and secured billions of pounds to improve treatments and care.
There is a still a lot to do so, on top of remembering those that have gone, think about what we can do now. We must all do our bit to talk about mental health more to help break the stigma and keep up the pressure on successive Governments to finally give mental health the funding it needs, so these modern day heroes can get the services and help they deserve.