.

Health Support For Wigan Veterans Issue Raised By Former Soldier

A former soldier used one of his first town hall appearances as a councillor to highlight the urgent need for mental health support for veterans.

James Paul Watson said borough health services should be aware of those who may suffer from long-term impacts of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

With the next few years marking the 20th anniversaries of UK forces involvement in major conflicts – including in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan – the Atherton representative told colleagues symptoms of PTSD can have a delayed onset.

Coun Watson, who served in the Irish Guards, was told council bosses are ‘confident’ that support networks were already in place, linked in with the borough’s newly opened Armed Forces Hub.

Speaking at the first meeting of the municipal year for the health and social care scrutiny committee, Coun Watson said: “PTSD can manifest over time, it can be an average of 20 years and these 20 year anniversaries are coming up.

“Are there any plans in place to deal with this projected spike in terms of mental health for our veterans?”

He also cited dozens of suicides within the veterans community linked with PTSD – and drug or alcohol related deaths – as evidence that urgent help is required.

Stuart Cowley, council director for adult social care and health, said the local authority had recently secured almost £500k of funding to help those within the armed forces community who are struggling with health issues.

The council operates support services along with its Armed Forces Hub, which opened last year, officers said.

Mr Cowley added: “The scope of what we do with that investment will cover the longer term impacts that people feel over time.

“I’m confident that the borough is serious about its support for veterans.

“I do think we’re in a decent place to capture and support on those issues.”

Coun Watson, who is a member of the Atherton Independent Network group, was elected in May.

More from Local