Government ministers meet army vets at hospital

The ministers visit the hospital

The ministers visit the hospital - Credit: NHS Camden and Islington

Army veterans paid tribute to specialist NHS services for saving their lives as two government ministers visited St Pancras Hospital on Monday (May 16). 

Gillian Keegan, minister for care and mental health, and Leo Docherty, minister for defence people and veterans, learned about the work of Veterans Trauma Network (VTN) and Op Courage. 

The specialist services provide former armed forces personnel across England with tailored support for their physical and mental health problems. 

Afghanistan veteran Lloyd Dellaway said: “When you come out of the army you are on your own, a soldier without a war.  

“I was referred to Op Courage after two suicide attempts and it has saved my life. 

“Op Courage plays a crucial role in helping veterans adjust to civilian life and needs to be more visible to those preparing to leave the armed forces.”

Dellaway served in the Royal Signals for nine years before receiving medical discharge and being diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder in 2016. 

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Op Courage refers veterans to the most suitable services across seven regions in England to receive support from healthcare professionals with a military background and understanding of the armed forces.

Similarly, VTN allocates armed forces personnel to a Veteran Support Worker who can provide tailored specialist support to veterans with physical health problems. 

Richard Chalmers, British Army veteran and peer support lead for London’s Op Courage, said: “We know that a proportion of former service personnel struggle with mental and physical health when they leave the armed forces.”

The visit to St Pancras on Monday allowed veterans to share their own experiences and how they had to reshape their lives as civilians, he continued. 

Sue Ferrier, consultant clinical psychologist and partnership lead for the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, said: “The visit provided an opportunity for staff and service users to speak about the specialist services for reservists and veterans including the integrated work across the VTN and Op Courage. 

“We were pleased to receive such positive feedback from the ministers and our Armed Forces commissioner about the work we do.”