Veterans’ group in funding crisis

Veterans ptsd

Fears veterans' support services will close  

28th July 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

An organisation which works with the NHS and local authorities to provide a lifeline to ex-armed forces veterans is in crisis.

Eight Veterans First Point centres across Scotland are under threat after funding ran out.

The organisation was created with money from UK banks fined for their part in the Libor rigging scandal.

But that funding is about to end this year with no new funding sourced.

Regional centres operate across Scotland in Edinburgh (Lothian), Aberdeen (Grampian), Wishaw (Lanarkshire), Dundee (Tayside), Inverness (Highland), Irvine (Ayrshire and Arran), Galashiels (Borders), and Cardenden (Fife).

The service has been vital in supporting hundreds of ex-service personnel but now there are fears they could suffer alone without support.  

The Scottish government currently funds 50% of the total cost of each service with health boards match-funding the remainder. But that funding runs out at the end of this year.

Col Martin Gibson, chairman of Veterans Scotland, said: "It would be a tragedy if veterans who are now being well supported by Veterans First Point centres across Scotland lost the service."

He added: "The Scottish government has said, in renewing our commitments, that they will continue this service and that's what we hope for."

An NHS Grampian spokesperson said: "NHS Grampian provides a range of services to support veterans and, following the announcement of changes to funding for Veterans First Point, we are currently reviewing options to meet the needs of users of the service."

Neil Murray, of Veterans First Point Grampian, said: "The veterans and their families deserve the support we provide, the have earned it."

At the core of the centres is a team of peer support workers, all ex-servicemen or women or from a military family, whose role is to help veterans cope with their problems. 

Jack Dunlop, 73, who served with the RAF, has suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) since the 1960s.

He said of Veterans First Point: "It has given me hope, we can talk, it's a close knit family.

"It's frightening, what happens now? Why should a good thing fail?"