Jul 27 2012 by Johnathon Menzies, Stirling Observer Friday
MSP Keith Brown has launched a new service designed to help ex-servicemen and women deal with health issues thrown up by military life.
The Clackmannanshire and Dunblane MSP, who also serves as the Scottish Government’s veterans’ minister, was joined by staff from Stirling Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) for the launch of a website and leaflet.
Holyrood politicians and officials, NHS 24 and Veterans Scotland have worked together to deliver the two new resources – which it’s hoped will culminate in a rise in the number of people officially identified as Armed Forces Veterans.
It’s hoped they would then get access to specialist advice services on offer through NHS Scotland, including priority treatment for service-related conditions, subject to clinical need.
The leaflet will be distributed to all GP practices and other primary care providers including hospitals and health centres.
Speaking at Stirling’s CAB, Falklands veteran Mr Brown said: “These resources will be invaluable to our former service personnel in helping them to identify new sources of support and advice on health issues.
“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting our country’s veterans, and with input from partner organisations like Veterans Scotland, we will continue to develop, deliver and implement new and innovative policies.
“CAB Scotland’s Armed Services Advice Project (ASAP), which was set up two years ago, also provides general advice to armed forces personnel on how to handle a range of issues, including debt, unemployment and housing concerns.”
Stirling ASAP regional support officer Ally Gemmell added: “Throughout the past two years ASAP, locally, has worked very diligently with local partner agencies, such as SSAFA and Combat Stress, to find the best outcome for the veterans’ specific needs and what can be very deep rooted and complex issues and we embrace the concept of working with the minister and NHS with parallel agendas and fully endorse the launch of the NHS inform”.
Local CAB branch chief executive officer Craig Anderson stated: “As an organisation, we recognise that there are particular groups who often need specialist types of support. One of these is the veterans’ community and their dependents, many of whom have very specific problems which need specialist advice; or whose problems are complicated by the fact that they are suffering from psychological or physical trauma. ASAP is here to offer support on the ground and to help with the many issues of transition onto civvy street.”
Martin Gibson of Veterans Scotland said: “The launch of NHS inform information zone on veterans’ health provides an excellent source of rich and detailed information on a whole host of clinical and social issues which can impact Scottish veterans and is designed to enhance their health and wellbeing. The website is clear, easy to access and provides links to specialist knowledge and the broader charitable groups which do so much to support our veterans.
“A helpful leaflet has also been prepared to further emphasise the website’s benefits. I am enormously grateful to NHS 24 who have made this possible and I would highly recommend those who have an interest or role in caring for Scotland’s veterans to make full use of the information provided.”
The Veteran Healthcare Guide is available on the NHS inform website, www.nhsinform.co.uk.
The Armed Service Advice Project can be accessed through any Scottish Citizens’ Advice Bureau, or via the national helpline 0845 231 0300 or at www.cas.org.uk/Projects/asap