Rhondda AM Leanne Wood has raised the lack of support for armed forces veterans in the National Assembly for Wales.
She called for the Labour Government in Wales to do more for ex-armed forces personnel after being contacted by a constituent who was given hardly any help to deal with the mental health conditions he developed after years of service.
During Business Questions with Rebecca Evans, the Labour Minister for Finance and Trefnydd, Leanne said: “I'd like to raise the matter of the support that veterans receive when they return to civilian life. This is a matter I've raised before and there has previously been some exemplary campaigning work undertaken by my Plaid Cymru colleagues in Westminster on this.
“A constituent contacted me recently to share with me his experiences of accessing mental health services after leaving the army. Whilst in service, this man completed two tours of Iraq and three tours of Afghanistan.
“He subsequently suffered from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and extreme anxiety, as well as drink and drug problems. I'm pleased to say that he has come out on the other side, but he says that that was not as a result of the overstretched mental health services that he tried to access. In his own powerful words, he said:
'I feel the army and the Government completely leave veterans to crash and burn, especially in our area, once service has been terminated. I'm proof of this. The aftercare is pretty poor and therapy for me used to consist of questionnaires that would ask, ''On a scale of one to 10, how are you feeling today?'’
“When are we likely to see real change on the ground for Welsh veterans and are you confident that the 10-year strategy for our veterans, unveiled last year, will deliver for people like the man from the Rhondda who contacted me?”
In response to Leanne’s intervention, Ms Evans said: “Veterans should be able to have priority access to health services if their condition is as a result of the service that they've given to our country, and that certainly applies to mental health services as well as meeting physical health needs.”
If you agree with Leanne, please click this link to get involved with Plaid Cymru.