Wales politics

Attention for armed forces veterans in MPs' inquiry

The help available for Wales' 250,000 armed forces veterans will be examined by MPs.

The Commons' Welsh Affairs Committee is looking into the support offered to former personnel and will ask whether government departments co-ordinate their activities.

Committee chairman David Davies said veterans needed the best-possible support when returning to civvy street.

Medical and mental-health services will be considered by the inquiry.

MPs will take evidence on the support services received by veterans and their families, including provision to help former military personnel resettle.

Some of the services under the microscope are the responsibility of the Welsh government.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

The committee will look at whether the devolved administration is co-ordinating with the Ministry of Defence and the Wales Office, and whether services on both sides of the England-Wales border operate effectively.

In its programme for government, the Welsh government said it would ensure funding for a mental health and well-being service for veterans.

Free bus passes - currently available for elderly and disabled passengers - are to be extended to seriously-injured war veterans and serving personnel in Wales.

Stress

In February, the assembly's Health Committee called for improvements to the treatment of veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

AMs heard about the problems veterans encounter when adjusting to civilian life after combat. GPs often find gaps in veterans' medical notes, the committee was told.

Monmouth MP Mr Davies said: "Wales has a long and proud relationship with the armed forces.

"Welsh military personnel have made an enormous contribution to the defence of the United Kingdom and in ongoing conflicts around the world.

"It is incumbent upon us to ensure that veterans and their families are given the best possible support when they leave the military and return to civilian life."

The impact on Welsh veterans of a legally-enshrined military covenant will also form part of the inquiry. The UK government has said it intends to write the covenant into law.

A Welsh government spokesman said local health boards had veterans' champions and that targets for the NHS require boards to consider the needs of veterans and service personnel when planning services.

He said: "We are committed to improving support to serving armed forces personnel, veterans and their families in the areas for which the Welsh government is responsible.

"Next month we will be publishing details of a package of support for the armed forces community that covers a wider range of services including health, education, housing, and childcare."

A spokeswoman for the Royal British Legion said the inquiry should look at how Wales adheres to the armed forces covenant.

"We would like to see the inquiry focus on how the NHS in Wales will ensure the provision of veterans' priority treatment which they are entitled to for conditions related to service" she said.

BBC Radio Wales' Eye On Wales has been talking to a former Royal Artillery serviceman from Porthcawl and his family about post-traumatic stress disorder. The programme is available on the BBC iPlayer.

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