Who counts as a veteran and who qualifies for this service?
The current definition of a veteran is anyone who has served for at least one day within the UK Armed Forces. However, we wish to be as inclusive as possible, recognising the effect that these issues can have on the family also. Therefore family members and carers are also welcome to make enquiries using this service, although we would always advise gaining the permission of the veteran concerned first.
How quickly will my query be followed up?
After the first enquiry we aim to follow that up within two working days to talk through the next steps. There is absolutely no obligation to take that conversation any further.
What services do you actually provide?
The service is run by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP), providing advice, signposting and, if necessary, clinical treatments to veterans with mental health issues. Although Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a term that many are familiar with, it is by no means the only aspect of mental health that might be considered. For example, drug and alcohol issues can also be a concern. The service is able to act as a focus for addressing these issues, either offering treatments internally, or by coordinating onwards referrals to those who would be better able to address the specific circumstances.
An additional role for the service is to promote awareness of veterans’ mental health issues amongst professional healthcare workers and other organisations.
Will I have to travel far to receive a service?
We work across the south west region and, in conjunction with the services already provided in Cornwall and Gloucestershire, we aim to minimise any travel for both yourself and our workers as much as possible. However, a degree of flexibility would be appreciated as appointments are booked to take place in many different premises across the region.
I don’t want to discuss these issues with my GP or tell my family – will you have to tell them anyway?
From first contact onwards we respect your privacy. The initial registration process involves us obtaining relevant permissions that will allow us to better support your needs. Should you wish, these can be discussed further. However, ultimately, staff are bound by their own professional codes that give them guidance on how to treat confidential information.
I’m currently still serving in the Armed Forces, but am due to leave soon – can I still use the service?
This is primarily a veterans’ service. However, if you wish to discuss your particular circumstances in confidence, then we would be happy to do so, but would encourage you strongly to involve your own Defence Medical Services at your local unit. Similarly, those who have just left the Armed Forces are now able to access certain military medical resources for a period afterwards, if that would better meet your needs. We could help you access these services if you wish.