Change Step forces veterans services launch in Wrexham

Soldier generic
Image caption Combat roles are likely to make some veterans manifest mental health concerns

A support service for around 50,000 armed forces veterans in north Wales has been launched.

Change Step will use former service personnel to help others with mental health issues, loneliness, welfare or addiction problems.

It is estimated 4% of service veterans will suffer some kind of mental health crisis, often as a result of experiencing a combat zone.

The service is being set up by the drug and alcohol charity Cais.

Volunteers aim to befriend former service veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder or needing help to tackle substance misuse.

Change Step was launched at Hightown Barracks, Wrexham, where the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers are based.

On its website, Cais said: "The service is delivered by veterans for veterans and aims to support those seeking help for problems encountered as a result of military or operational duty.

Priority treatment

"The programme will offer peer support and training opportunities, as well as counselling and detoxification from drugs or alcohol where required."

This month Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) said it wanted a veterans' mental health clinical network because of significant needs among ex-servicemen and women.

The recommendations come following a survey of serving and former staff and charities such as Combat Stress.

The Welsh government has pledged to improve support to military families.

Veterans are entitled to priority treatment from the NHS if their medical needs relate to their military service.

Change Step works with charities including the Wrexham-based NHS All-Wales Veterans Health and Wellbeing Service (AWVHWS) and The Royal British Legion.

It is named after a recognised parade command.

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