Veterans tell of war aftermath
EAST Devon MP Hugo Swire, a former Grenadier Guardsman, is meeting military veterans suffering from combat-related post traumatic stress disorder.
The MP, who is also the Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, was invited by former member of the Royal Signals John Pattison, who is the veterans' development officer for the Devon Partnership NHS Trust, a new position which is currently being trialled.
Mr Pattison organised the session as part of his role leading the Building Together programme.
It provides support to veterans suffering from combat trauma to develop their own forms of rehabilitation.
Supporting the programme is artist and former Royal Navy sailor and UN Military Observer John McDermott, of Exeter, founder of Aftermath PTSD, a not-for-profit social enterprise which offers respite and support for veterans suffering with the condition through art workshops and exhibitions.
He said there were thousands of veterans suffering with PTSD in Devon but there was "limited and disjointed" help available.
"John has been tireless in getting the group established," he said.
"And it is getting larger and larger as awareness spreads.
"There are groups available to help people suffering with PTSD, many with acute and chronic symptoms.
"Some have already been to charities like Combat Stress, but after a few weeks are left on their own again.
"Under the NHS, Better Together allows people to come together and receive meaningful, peer-to-peer support and long-term help. Groups like this are wonderful."
Mr McDermott said that the meeting was an opportunity to raise awareness of the group's work with the MP, while giving the veterans the chance to raise any concerns.
"Mr Swire has a good knowledge of the Ministry of Defence and veterans' issues and has an independent mind about these matters and is vocal about them," Mr McDermott.
"This is a significant meeting where veterans will have the rare chance to speak directly to an MP about the many concerns they share regarding many pressing issues that are directly affecting Devon's veteran community, which number in the many thousands."