Po­lice force of­fers sup­port to vet­er­ans through new ser­vice

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

The Armed Forces Re­fer­ral Ser­vice, launched on July 6, aims to re­duce crime rates by pro­vid­ing bet­ter ac­cess to sup­port for vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies.

Thames Val­ley Po­lice is one of the first forces in the UK to launch the ser- vice, which will pro­vide vet­er­ans op­por­tu­ni­ties to ac­cess sup­port from SSAFA, the Armed Forces char­ity.

When of­fi­cers meet vet­er­ans, ei­ther through wel­fare or crim­i­nal in­ci­dents, they can now re­fer them to the sup­port sys­tem in place.

Armed forces re­fer­ral ser­vice lead, Po­lice Con­sta­ble Antony Colton, a former mem­ber of the army’s mil­i­tary po­lice, spent the last nine months work­ing on the project.

He said: “About four years ago I met a vet­eran. I had no idea who he was, he was just a man walk­ing down the road who I thought I needed to talk to.

“He was suf­fer­ing from post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der, he had been dis­charged from the Army for med­i­cal rea­sons, his fam­ily was break­ing down and ev­ery­thing was go­ing wrong for him.

“He then ad­mit­ted he was on the way to kill him­self.”

PC Antony Colton im­me­di­ately re­ferred him to the sup­port sys­tem in place for peo­ple found in cri­sis, which he said is “very good”.

How­ever, he added: “Mem­bers of the armed forces re­spond dif­fer­ently, their men­tal­ity is a bit dif­fer­ent – it would have been bet­ter if we could have done some more.

“Any­one who comes into con­tact with TVP and who is iden­ti­fied as hav­ing any links with the Bri­tish Armed Forces will be of­fered the op­por­tu­nity to be re­ferred to SSA- FA, a char­ity that of­fers prac­ti­cal, emo­tional and fi­nan­cial sup­port to serv­ing per­son­nel, vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies.

“No mat­ter how com­plex their needs, work­ing to­gether we can do more.”

Julie McCarthy, di­rec­tor of vol­un­teer op­er­a­tions at SSAFA, said she hopes this project will help with re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and pro­duce lower re-of­fend­ing rates in the area.

She said: “Work­ing with Thames Val­ley Po­lice will en­sure that we will be able to pro­vide more sup­port to more vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies who find them­selves in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

“SSAFA is ex­tremely grate­ful to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund for pro­vid­ing a grant to sup­port a wider SSAFA project work­ing with vet­er­ans and fam­i­lies in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

“We hope this project will help with the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of vet­er­ans and, in turn, lower re-of­fend­ing rates.”

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