When our heroes deserve our help
THE plight of veterans who have served their country but now suffer from mental and physical injuries is rightly a weight on the conscience of the nation.
Veterans have told us of their difficulties accessing benefits. Navigating the bureaucracy of the welfare system is a challenge for many families, but coping with this pressure while also suffering from PostTraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) could push people into a state of anguish.
We have heard why some veterans find the prospect of going to an assessment centre to determine whether they qualify for benefits so intimidating. It is not just anxiety about their finances which makes them dread the thought of this journey; the idea of going into such an unfamiliar environment is a nightmare for some former service personnel whose lives are now blighted by panic attacks.
We owe it to people who signed up to serve in conflict environments that we do everything we can to help them adjust to civilian life and cope with the legacy of their time in danger zones.
Men and women who volunteer to serve in battles are not cowardly or lazy; we can understand why they will feel aggrieved if benefits assessors will not come to meet them in their homes instead of expecting them to trek to centres.
The difficulty of living with PTSD cannot be over-estimated. Many people are not able to escape decades-old trauma and are haunted by what they have experienced.
In communities across Britain, veterans shudder daily as they recall images of horror and moments of extreme danger, and mourn the loss of comrades who died while serving their country.
Families will do their best to support loved ones who bear mental and physical scars but few people will be able to relate to what they witnessed and endured.
It is imperative that care for servicemen and women does not end when someone leaves the barracks for the last time; it should be assumed that all veterans will be supported as they start the next chapter of life.
For some, injuries will mean they will not be able to jump into new careers, and they may struggle to cope with social environments. Too many veterans end up homeless and in personal turmoil.
Charities such as the Welsh Veterans Partnership do important work but we should ensure the mechanisms of the state also help and do not hinder heroes.