An Afghanistan veteran who now runs a support charity for ex-service personnel says it is wrong that the MoD washes its hands of the health of veterans once they become civilians.
UUP MLA Andy Allen said: “It cannot be denied that our NHS do sterling work, however, the MOD policy that you become the concern of the NHS, service charities or others upon discharge is wrong and should be reviewed.”
He served in Afghanistan with the Royal Irish where he lost both legs in a roadside bomb in 2008 and was left visually impaired.
Andy started up Andy Allen Veterans Support charity in 2010, which has provided over 2500 hours of counselling for veterans mental health and provides support with welfare and financial advice.
“We have seen a marked increase in demand for our counselling the last four years that we have been providing that service, which is concerning.”
Although involving a very small minority of veterans, suicide is “absolutely a real issue” he says.
He was speaking to the News Letter as part of a Johnston Press Investigations Team probe into suicide rates in the military veterans community.
“I know of a number of veterans who have felt for one reason or another that they have had nowhere else to turn to and have taken their own lives,” he said.
He is personally aware of three or four in the last few years.
“I think people are now starting to understand more about mental health and are more comfortable in coming forward,” he added.
His charity can be contacted at www.aavsni.com or 028 9074 7071.