In Sussex, there are an estimated 130,000 military veterans, over 66,000 of whom live in West Sussex (as of 2012). The 2012 Military Veterans’ Health needs assessment considers the health needs relating to military service and has been produced in response to increasing recognition nationally of the health needs of military veterans. The renewed Military Covenant includes specific commitments relating to health, in line with the principle that people should not be disadvantaged as a result of serving in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.
The nature of recent conflicts and improvements in military medical care mean that personnel are surviving more severe and complex injuries than previously. However, younger veterans tend to have more complex injuries and are significantly more likely to report long term health problems than their peers in the general population.
As in the general population, depression and anxiety are the most common mental health conditions among veterans. Alcohol misuse, however, is much more frequent among veterans, particularly those who have been to combat zones and in younger personnel. Young male veterans, particularly from lower ranks or who have left service early, are also at increased risk of mental health problems and suicide.
This needs assessment provides several recommendations for better health of military veterans, including the needs to:
- Improve data collection within health services to reflect whether individuals are veterans, to inform whether this group’s health needs are being met
- Support reservists, such as in employer policies for those who have left the service
- Act on the recommendations of the Murrison report to improve mental and physical health
- Support ex-service personnel in prison, including better identification of these veterans in the criminal justice system, and extend schemes, such as Veterans in Custody, that link veterans with charities that can provide assistance on release
- Ensure identification of at-risk leavers and signpost these veterans to specialist support services.
For the purposes of this needs assessment, a veteran is someone who has served in the Armed Forces for at least one day. This includes people who have served in Reserve / Auxiliary Forces.