Veterans suffering in silence

Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity specialising in the care of veterans’ mental health, is set to bolster activity north of the border with the appointment of a new fundraising officer for Scotland.

Kath Provan will be responsible for fundraising and increasing awareness of the tremendous work the charity is doing to support ex-service men and women. Kath will work closely with Clive Fairweather, who is one of Scotland’s chief fundraisers for the charity and a stalwart supporter. Based from Hollybush House in Ayrshire, Kath will be focusing her efforts on the West of Scotland in a bid to increase Combat Stress’s presence in the region.

Kath has lived in Scotland for 25 years and moved to Ayrshire in 2000. For the last three years she has worked as a fundraiser with another local charity, Ayrshire Cancer Support.

Commenting on her new role Kath said: “I am looking forward to working with Clive and the rest of the team at Combat Stress, to continue to raise awareness of the charity and the plight of Veterans who need our support after putting their lives on the line for our country. We are keen to create new fundraising events that will reach out to Veterans and encourage them to seek help as soon as possible. This is something that I will be working towards in the near future.”

Clare Armstrong, operations manager for Combat Stress in Scotland, said: “It is great that we now have Kath on board. She is bursting with fresh ideas and I’m sure that her past experience will help ensure Combat Stress is very much on the map in Scotland and at the forefront of the minds of those supporting Veterans.

“Fundraising and increasing awareness is vital to the role Combat Stress plays in supporting Veterans in most need of help, through engagement with the Community Outreach Teams and the treatment centre at Hollybush.”

Combat Stress is the UK’s leading military charity specialising in the care of Veterans’ mental health. Its aim is to ensure that veterans receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time. and has supported almost 100,000 Veterans since being founded in 1919.

At the moment, Combat Stress is working with over 4800 veterans - more than at any time in its long history. This includes 589 who served in Iraq and 228 who have served in Afghanistan. The youngest veteran is just 19 years old.

Demand for its services is rising: 1,443 Veterans contacted it for help in 2010-2011. And it is currently supporting 671 veterans in Scotland.

On average it takes 13.1 years from service discharge for veterans to make the first-step approach to Combat Stress for help, by which time their condition is often highly complex – with additional symptoms such as alcohol abuse and dependence. This has a profound effect on the veterans’ quality of life, affecting relationships, motivation, energy levels, sleep patterns and their ability to hold a job. 

The charity treats conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety disorders. Its services are free of charge to every veteran.

To help Veterans rebuild their lives it provide a range of services. These include a 24-hour Helpline (0800 138 1619) which provides free and confidential mental health advice and a support line. It is for current and ex-service personnel, and their families and carers; There is also community outreach – delivered by a national network of teams of regional welfare officers (providing practical support) and community-based clinicians. Its support is tailored to each Veteran’s needs.

There is short-stay clinical treatment – with other veterans – at one of its three specialist centres in Ayrshire, Shropshire and Surrey. The treatment and care that it provides is tailored to each veteran’s needs

It also raises awareness of the plight of veterans with wounded minds within the Armed Forces and civil society and provides a specialist forces Liaison Team. there is an NHS veterans’ post-traumatic stress disorder programme - a centre of excellence for the treatment of PTSD. Combat Stress, also known as the Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society, is a registered charity in Scotland.

r To find out more about Combat Stress go to www.combatstress.org.uk . The Combat Stress 24 hour Helpline is available to Veterans and their families on 0800 138 1619.