How Do The Armed Services Affect Soldiers?
The Law Of… Taking Care Of Our Veterans
Recent YouGov research commissioned by SSAFA, an Armed Forces charity, shows that many soldiers who have left the armed forces have since had feelings of isolation, loneliness and overwhelming negative feelings.
Personal Injury Claims specialist, Anna Thompson, investigates the aftermath for soldiers serving in the armed forces and what help there is available for them and their families.
Life After Service
The study, which interviewed 2,007 veterans aged 18-64, found that 41% of veterans felt isolated after leaving the military with an astounding 21% having suicidal thoughts. Whilst there is evidence to suggest that veterans who have served on the front line are no more likely to suffer from mental health issues than those who haven't, the culture of the armed forces can make seeking help for mental health appear quite difficult.
Despite the new research from SSAFA suggesting a bleak picture for veterans, there is a huge network of help from charities around the country, ready and waiting to help those veterans who feel isolated.
Mental And Physical Health Post-Service
The mental and physical health of a veteran obviously depends on their experiences both within and beyond their service. Some of the more commonly recognised mental health issues that veterans suffer from after they leave the armed forces include depression and anxiety.
However, there are several other conditions that can affect the quality of life of a soldier once he or she has left the forces.
Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD)
The Chilcot Review – an investigation into the Iraq war – found that the British Army had been ill-equipped for the conflict and the outcome of this led to many soldiers suffering from PTSD.
PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by stressful, frightening or distressing events. If you suffer from PTSD, it is common to relive the events that caused the condition in the form of flashbacks.
The Symptoms of PTSD include:
- Inability to control emotions
Fibromyalgia is a pain disorder. People who have fibromyalgia often feel pain and tenderness throughout their body. Unlike most other pain disorders, fibromyalgia can be caused by mental trauma as well as physical trauma, making veterans particularly vulnerable to the condition.
Fibromyalgia has been known to be caused by:
Because of the unpredictable and chronic nature of fibromyalgia, the condition itself can lead to mental health issues.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
CRPS sufferers experience persistent and severe pain that can make everyday tasks impossible. Much like fibromyalgia, the impact of this illness can lead to further mental health issues.
The symptoms of CRPS include:
- Burning and intense stabbing pain
- Pain caused by pressure or temperature
- Abnormal swelling
- Changes in skin colour
- Excessive sweating
The causes of CRPS are not wholly understood although it is known to develop after a traumatic injury. When CRPS might develop in one person with a particular injury, another person with the same injury may not develop it.
Injuries that have been known to trigger CRPS include:
Whilst anyone is at risk of CRPS if they have suffered personal injury, due to the activities often carried out within the armed forces, soldiers are at a higher risk of injury and therefore of CRPS.
Help For Veterans
Whilst the research of veterans post-service suggests a dark picture for those looking to leave the armed forces, there are lots of charities and services available to veterans to help them with any issues they may have with their health.
SSAFA itself provides veterans and their families with empathetic support in rebuilding an independent life after leaving the forces. They aim to understand the needs of veterans and provide effective support for those who are suffering with stress.
The Royal British Legion, in association with the NHS, set up The Veterans Trauma Network specifically for those veterans who are living with traumatic injuries whether mentally or physically. The network provides a wealth of information on mental health services, national centres of expertise and major service charities around the country.
Walking with the Wounded is another charity that supports a pathway for vulnerable veterans who have been physically, mentally or socially disadvantaged by their service to re-integrate back into society and sustain their independence. At the heart of this journey is employment.
How Can Simpson Millar Help?
If you have suffered a traumatic injury whilst serving within the British military that was the result another's carelessness, you could be entitled to compensation for the damages caused.
A compensation claim could help the speed of your recovery, or, if you have suffered a life-changing injury, compensation could provide you with medical equipment and expertise that could help you with a better quality of life post-injury.
"It is so sad to think that this many veterans are feeling isolated having left the armed forces. There is lots of help available; it's just about knowing where to turn when you start to feel lost."
"I think studies like the one SSAFA has commissioned is excellent in raising awareness of the mental health issues veterans often suffer with once they leave the military."
"Serving in the armed forces is a dangerous job and it is so often accepted that accidents and injuries will happen as part of the job. But soldiers have a right to expect that they will be protected to an acceptable extent whilst serving."
If you have suffered an injury, mental or physical, whilst serving in the armed forces, contact our personal injury specialists who will be able to provide you with impartial legal advice.