A regional daily’s campaign for better support for former Armed Forces personnel struggling to adapt to civilian life has achieved success.
Teesside’s Evening Gazette launched its Fighting For Our Heroes drive earlier this year, calling for more counselling for ex-servicemen and women, along with improved access to social housing.
Now, in an interview with the Gazette’s editor Chris Styles, Veterans Minister Andrew Robathan has pledged that 30 specialist mental health nurses would be employed around the country to help former military personnel adjust to life out of the forces.
The paper has since extended its campaign to fight for the 2nd Yorkshire Regiment – formerly the Green Howards – to be saved after the government announced it would be axed as part of defence cuts.
Said Chris: “The campaign was inspired by truly moving stories of how people had fought for the country with distinction, only to fall on hard times because of a lack of support when they left the forces.
“This is simply wrong, and the minister acknowledged that more needs to be done for ex-servicemen and women in need of help when they leave the military.
“Our partner groups believe the changes will make a difference and we welcome the action to bring about this change.”
The minister also revealed that the Government is consulting over a change in the law over the priority given to ex-servicemen and women who are seeking social housing to make it fairer.
Currently in some parts of Teesside, a single man leaving the forces is given the same priority as a single man who has been released from prison.
The call for specialist mental health nurses came after campaign groups – including the Royal British Legion and Combat Stress – which are backing the Gazette’s campaign, identified improved counselling as vital in helping veterans build a new life.