Ulster Unionist Peer Lord Empey has pressed the Government to provide adequate resources to provide long-term support for injured service personnel.
Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Empey asked the Defence Minister Lord Astor “how many members of the armed forces have sustained life-changing injuries as a result of their service in Iraq and Afghanistan; and what additional resources will be made available for their long-term care.”
The Minister replied that “serious UK operational casualties” are usually categorised as having either serious or very serious wounds and injuries.”
The Minister also stated that between 2003 and 2009 222 UK casualties in Iraq were included in these categories, and that between 2001 and November 2012, 591 such casualties had been sustained in Afghanistan.
Lord Empey pressed the Minister on the issue of service personnel who have suffered and will suffer from mental illness and who will require care for anything up to 60 years or more and that will be care which inevitably cannot be provided by the Armed Forces.
He asked, “What strategy is in place to ensure that the National Health Service, which will have to bear this burden, is adequately resourced in terms of financial, professional resources with specific knowledge required to treat these casualties whose sacrifice ensures that we continue to enjoy the freedoms which sadly we so often take for granted.”
Lord Empey welcomed the Minister’s response that the Ministry of Defence was working closely with the Department of Health to ensure that “any service-related medical needs are met throughout their civilian lives” and especially the Minister’s reference to introducing a “nationwide network of new veteran-focused mental health outreach and assessment teams.”