Editorial Comment Care Our Servicemen and Women Deserve

Article excerpt

THE state of the Armed Forces is very much in the headlines this weekend, with the outspoken attacks from former chiefs of the defence staff still ringing in the Prime Ministers ears.

Their charge is that not enough cash is coming to the Ministry of Defence; the implicit suggestion is that ministers are failing in their duty of care to the Armed Forces.

Some have even gone further and suggested the military covenant, the deal between soldiers and the state they serve, is under threat. That claim is overblown, but thats not to say that more could not be done to help both serving personnel and veterans of conflicts.

So its pleasing to see ministers announce that veterans who dont have a war pension will have priority access to NHS services if they have a conflict-related illness.

That privilege is already extended to those on war pensions, and its extension is a small but welcome step.

Across the UK there are nearly five million ex-servicemen and women, and only 170,000 receive a war pension. Not all are going to start using the new facilities, of course the Assembly Government says the demand is expected to be small.

Another development is a trial of a community health facility for those veterans suffering from mental health problems. It will be based in Cardiff, and will, we hope, lead to an improved level of service to a group who can be difficult to reach through traditional healthcare systems. …