Leading Veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress says November can be a difficult month for ex-Service personnel, with fireworks and Remembrance Sunday potentially triggering flashbacks


COMBAT Stress, the Veterans’ mental health charity, is calling for Veterans’ family and friends to be aware that November can be a challenging month for ex-Service personnel suffering from Service-related trauma.

The sights and sounds of fireworks during Bonfire Week can often trigger unwanted memories of their time in combat and events around Remembrance Sunday can serve as a poignant, distressing reminder of their experiences.

Combat Stress has released figures showing there was a nine per cent increase in contacts to their 24-hour Helpline during November 2013 compared to the rest of the year. It expects to receive a similar number of calls this month.

The charity is currently spending £16 million per annum to deliver its specialist clinical treatment and welfare support to mentally wounded Veterans, including a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Intensive Treatment Programme.

With troops having withdrawn from Afghanistan last month, Combat Stress says the number of Veterans needing psychological treatment is likely to continue to increase.

Across the UK, Combat Stress is helping Veterans of every conflict British Forces have been involved in since the Second World War, and has found that, on average, ex-Service personnel wait 13 years after discharge before seeking help.

Combat Stress marks its 95th anniversary this year and has supported more than 100,000 Veterans since it was founded in 1919 in the aftermath of the War. With more than 759 Veterans currently being helped in Scotland, the charity’s work is as vital today as it was after the First World War.

Dr Nicola Sorfleet, Manager of Psychological Therapies at Combat Stress, said: “Events like Bonfire Night and Remembrance Sunday can be the first time when family members and loved ones realise that a Veteran may be suffering from PTSD. With loud noises, bright flashes and imagery of war in the media, it’s easy to understand how these events can trigger distressing memories.

“Around 20 per cent of ex-Service men and women who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are likely to suffer from mental ill-health. It’s vitally important that at times of potential distress they have access to free, timely, effective clinical treatment and welfare support.”

Combat Stress will be sharing advice on its website www.combatstress.org.uk on how Veterans can manage their anxiety during firework season.

Veterans, Service personnel, Reservists and families can call the Combat Stress 24-hour Helpline on 0800 138 1619.

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