More funding for Wales’ specialist mental health service focused exclusively on military veterans, additional funding for Armed Forces Liaison Officers and a new resettlement guide to support people leaving the Armed Forces form part of a new package of more than £500,000 Welsh Government support for veterans.
This includes an additional £235,000 annually to fund Veteran National Health Service Wales (VNHSW) from 2021/22 onwards; £275,000 per annum to fund Armed Forces Liaison Officers across Wales until 2023; £50,000 to train prosthetists in Wales in new technologies; £120,000 to support military charities in tackling loneliness and social isolation; and £250,000 to support Armed Forces children.
Government funding for the VNHSW, now £920,000pa, is an increase of 35%. In addition to creating Highly Specialist Veterans Clinical Lead posts within the service, the additional annual funding for 2021/22 maintains the provision of therapy previously supported for the last 3 years by Help for Heroes across Wales.
Minister for Mental Health, Wellbeing and the Welsh Language Eluned Morgan said: “The Veterans NHS Wales Service is the only national service of its kind in the UK for service related mental health conditions; it supports dedicated therapists in each health board to improve the mental health and wellbeing of veterans. Veterans can refer themselves and they will receive support from a therapist who has experience specifically in Service-related mental health issues.
“We are committed to supporting this extremely valuable service which benefits veterans of all ages and backgrounds across Wales.”
Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government Hannah Blythyn said: “In the past year we have delivered a new Veteran’s Railcard in Wales, and the Welsh Government has joined the ‘Great Place to Work for Veterans’ initiative; providing guaranteed interviews for veterans who meet the basic job specifications when applying to join the civil service.
“We know that veterans have an incredibly valuable range of skills that they can contribute to our workplaces and our communities. This package of funding and support is focused on helping them to thrive. However, during the pandemic we have seen the challenges of loneliness and isolation increase and I’m eally pleased that Welsh Government funding has helped to address this for veterans across Wales.”
BLESMA, the military charity for limbless veterans, the VC Gallery in Haverfordwest, and the Bridgend Carers Centre are amongst the charities who have worked to tackle loneliness and isolation amongst veterans in Wales over the last year.
Before the pandemic, BLESMA hosted meals alongside digital training sessions; during the pandemic they transferred their book club to run online.
The Bridgend Carers Centre provided SIM cards and tablets to isolated veterans and supported them to get online. They also ran Tai Chi and meditation sessions.
The VC Gallery in Haverfordwest supported older veterans to gain digital skills and get online during the pandemic, kept in touch with regular phone calls, ran digital art clubs and provided food parcels and welfare checks to their most vulnerable members.
(Lead image: Crown Copyright / MOD)
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