I need support

Veterans’ families ‘cast adrift’ by lack of government support, says Terry Butcher

Ex-England captain and Combat2Coffee patron Terry Butcher said families of veterans with mental ill health will continue to be ‘cast adrift’ without dedicated government support.

The former Ipswich Town and Rangers defender has helped us launch the “Beyond the Uniform” campaign, calling on the government to go further in its support for veterans by creating a dedicated service for veterans’ families.

Terry and his family have experienced hardship themselves following the death of his son Christopher, who developed post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving the army.

Terry, speaking during Armed Forces Week, said: “Families become part of the military in many aspects. They have a military mindset and when their relation leaves the forces and is deeply troubled, it affects them all.

“There is no real support for them. There is some support for the veterans themselves, but for families in particular they are hit hard and have no one to turn to. Someone to speak to about what happens and how it will affect you.

“As a family you feel like you’ve been cast adrift. That you’re on your own. You’ve got to find your own lifejackets.”

While services are available for veterans, including the revered NHS OpCOURAGE service and Veterans’ Gateway, there are no dedicated government services designed purely for their families.

Signposting towards brilliant charities such as The Ripple Pond, who support family members of injured veterans, is also seen as inadequate.

Terry said such support would have proven invaluable to his family after his son’s return from Afghanistan.

He added: “My son came out of the military and he really did struggle. From a mental health point of view there wasn’t any help out there for him.

“They are the people we want to reach, but equally their families as well. My family suffered enormously – we had to look after our son.

“The mental health pressures we felt are something we will never forget, and it’s something we want to help people with.

“Whatever government comes in, we want a voice. We want our families to have a voice.

“We’re not asking for the world. We’re asking for a little bit more attention and help to give the families much more of a lifeline to cling onto.”

Our founder, former Royal Anglian Nigel Seaman, created Combat2Coffee in 2018 after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, having struggled with anxiety, mood swings and a gambling addiction.

His family too felt the effects of his mental health.

Nigel said: “Those dark days were incredibly hard – not just for me, but my family. It took a massive toll on their lives just like it did mine, especially my kids.

“While I am hugely thankful for the support OpCOURAGE has provided me, I would have had real peace of mind knowing my family had access to a similar level of support.

“Something like OpCOMMUNITY would be incredible – something designed to help the entire armed forces community, which families are very much a part of.

“My thanks go to Terry for joining forces with us in promoting this incredibly important message.”

Terry added: “To families suffering, you are not alone. Seeking help takes time but it is well worth it.”

Watch Terry and Nigel in conversation about Beyond the Uniform below.

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