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'More needs doing' - veterans call for mental health support ahead of Remembrance Day

PUBLISHED: 16:17 08 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:17 08 November 2019

Gary Edwards  suffered a mental breakdown after a series of tragic events. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Gary Edwards suffered a mental breakdown after a series of tragic events. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

RACHEL EDGE

Veterans have said that "more needs doing" to help servicemen and women cope with the mental health effects of their work.

Trevor Coult auctioned off his army medals and memorabilia in 2016 because they reminded him of the pain he has endured since he was awarded them. Picture: GREGG BROWNTrevor Coult auctioned off his army medals and memorabilia in 2016 because they reminded him of the pain he has endured since he was awarded them. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The Suffolk Armed Forces Community Wellbeing Group is focused on raising awareness for the 34,000 veterans who live in Suffolk, who range between the ages of 24 up to 100-years-old.

Gary Edwards, a veteran living in Shotley Gate Suffolk, said: "The Armed Forces have now started to realise the importance of mental health but more needs doing.

"Over 50 serving and retired soldiers took their own lives in the UK in 2018 - 50 families left devastated.

"Mental health should be one of the biggest priorities for members of the Armed Services who have served, especially for those that have seen active service."

Gary's brother Richard took his own life in 1989 when serving in the Royal Signals.

A few years later he was discharged from the forces with an injury, and shortly afterwards his son Christopher died from a bleed on the brain.

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The tragic events triggered a breakdown and, since he recovered in 2013, he has been raising awareness for the support needed when leaving the forces.

Fellow Suffolk veteran and decorated war hero Trevor Coult, of Woodbridge, has also spoken out.

He said: "There is enough awareness. Everyone knows about mental health but we need the government to respond to it.

"Everyone is happy to run stories and talk about how important awareness is but then everyone turns their back on you when it's time to help."

Mr Coult was sceptical of the appointment of Army Sergeant Major Glenn Haughton as the armed forces first mental health champion, saying nothing was getting done.

Suffolk County Council said it was championing the services offered online on the Veterans Gateway such as breakfast clubs, support groups and events.

Stuart Keeble, director of public health at Suffolk County Council, said: "There is a huge network of organisations supporting the Armed Forces community and the gateway is a great resource to help people to find the local support they need.

"I would like to thank the groups we are working with for their support in promoting resources which are available in Suffolk."

Access the Veteran's Gateway website here.

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