As troops come home from the Middle East and from military bases in Germany, the UK healthcare system is faced with more and more military men and women requiring care and support. Military charity SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen’s Families Association) are working hard to understand the needs of the forces today, and analyse the help and support their families should receive.
It is predicted that, by 2020, around 25,000 military personnel and their families will have returned to the UK, and as the government plan to increase their reserve forces to 30,000 by then, the numbers will continue to increase. With an increased number of military reservists and their families coming back to the UK, it is expected that most of these military personnel will have to live among a civilian population rather than on military bases, with a number of these personnel having to work another job alongside their training.
With this shift in living arrangements, social support for military families will become more and more difficult. With families spread all over the country it will be tough to provide the right assistance and support to the returning military men and women and their families. SSAFA is working hard to ensure these men, women and their families, who have made the ultimate sacrifice, are given the necessary support.
The sheer number of military personnel now living in each community will increase the demand for social care and therefore social care jobs in order to support this new age of veterans and returning military. And while social care will be vital for these new generations of veterans and military, it is also important to continue supporting veterans and their families that have been through previous conflicts as well, such as in Bosnia, the Falklands and in Northern Ireland.
SSAFA help 35,181 veterans and their families and have 40,000 patients in their health and social care system. Reports of military veterans having to fund their own social care have been widely criticised as previous laws, prior to 6th April 2005, allowed councils to treat veterans’ war pensions as income, which means they have had topay for their own care. This adds additional stress to the lifestyle of a veteran, who may be suffering with an injury or disability and is now having to manage his/her minimal income to pay for care.
This has, however, since changed, and veterans who have left the forces since this date are now protected under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, with their payouts protected by councils. There are a number of other charities that support veterans and their families in the UK, including mental and stress trauma and disorders. And with a 10 million strong community of veterans in the UK that is ever increasing, the need for social care and support in the community is going to become more vital than ever before.