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Related to: Mental Health and Illness, Emotional Health and Wellbeing of Children and Young People, Ill Health and Disability, Alcohol, Substance Misuse, Safeguarding Adults, Adult Social Care

Key Facts

  • There were an estimated 2.56 million UK Armed Forces veterans residing in households across Great Britain in 2015
  • There are over 420 resident armes forces personnel and between 40-50 MOD personnel stationed in B&NES
  • Just over 100 children in B&NES are eligable for Service Pupil Premium
  • National research has shown a link between active service and mental health problems. This link is most evident in those deployed in combat roles, particularly with regards to alcohol misuse.

What does the data say?

National findings 1

  • Across UK Armed Forces veterans and non-veterans residing in GB there were no differences in the health conditions reported, with the most prevalent long-term health conditions being musculoskeletal and cardiovascular and respiratory problems.
  • UK Armed Forces veterans residing in GB aged 16-34 and 50-64 were more likely to have ever smoked. Working age (16-64) veterans who had ever smoked were significantly more likely to report suffering from respiratory and mental illness health conditions compared to non-smokers. They were also more likely to report that their general health was bad and that their health concerns limited their day to day activities.
  • There were no notable differences in employment status of working age UK Armed Forces veterans residing in GB when compared to non-veterans with 75.9% of veterans employed compared to 78.8% of the standardised non-veteran population.
  • Working age UK Armed Forces veterans residing in Great Britain were significantly more likely to have gained their qualifications through work compared to non-veterans (63.5% compared to 45.3% respectively). This may be due to veterans using the opportunities available to gain qualifications when they were in Service, or veterans being more likely to undertake vocational training on leaving the Services.

Mental Health

A number of UK studies have found links between active service and mental health problems in armed service personnel involved in recent conflicts. A very recent study 2 of 10,000 serving personnel (83% regulars; 27% reservists) found lower than expected levels of PTSD. Common mental disorders and alcohol misuse were the most frequently reported mental disorders among UK armed forces personnel. In particular, levels of alcohol misuse overall were substantially higher than in the general population.

The main findings were:

  • 4% reported probable post-traumatic stress disorder
  • 19.7% reported other common mental disorders 
  • 13% reported alcohol misuse 
  • regulars deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan were significantly more likely to report alcohol misuse than those not deployed 
  • reservists were more likely to report probable post-traumatic stress disorder than those not deployed 
  • regular personnel in combat roles were more likely than were those in support roles to report probable post-traumatic stress disorder 
  • experience of mental health problems was not linked with number of deployments.

There are an estimated five million veterans in the UK, and a further 20,000 personnel leave the forces each year. When staff leave HM Forces, their healthcare transfers from the military to the NHS.

Only around 0.1% of regular service personnel are discharged annually for mental health reasons. However some veterans develop mental health problems after leaving service, many of whom will be experiencing PTSD.

Only half of those experiencing mental health problems sought help from the NHS, and those that did were rarely referred to specialist mental health services.

Veterans’ mental health problems may be made worse or caused by post-service factors, such as the difficulty in making the transition to civilian life, marital problems, and loss of family and social support networks. Younger veterans are at high risk of suicide in the first two years after leaving service. Ex-service personnel are also vulnerable to social exclusion and homelessness, both of which are risk factors for mental ill health. Alcohol misuse is also high.

Health needs of the wider ex-service community in the South West 3

This supplementary report summarises results of a secondary analysis of the Royal British Legion (RBL) survey data of the adult ex-service community 4. The purpose was to profile the demographics and reported health needs of the adult ex-service community (meaning both veterans and adult dependents) by English government region. Findings should be treated as indicative only, in context of local information, since the survey sample sizes were relatively small and varied between regions (from 114 in the North East to 279 in the South West).

Key indicative findings of the report were;

  • The South West region is estimated to have approximately 610,000 ex-service community, the largest in the country alongside the South East. Of this 370,00 are estimated to be veterans and 240,000 dependents.

  • The South West, along with the South East, had the highest proportion of retirement age (65+) ex-service community (73%).

  • Summarising across a range of measures (such as health-related problems in the past year, long-term conditions, daily limitations, negative feelings and struggling to live independently), the South West and North East had patterns that suggest higher levels of need

  • 58% of those surveyed from the South West cited having long term health conditions or disabilities (second highest behind the North East)

  • Members of the ex-service community living in the South West had higher reporting of musculo-skeletal problems.

Bath and North East Somerset

Whilst there is not a particularly large local population of military personnel compared to our geographical neighbours and there are no Armed Forces bases in the authority, we do have some details of personnel stationed or resident in the area;

  • According to the 2011 Census, there are just over 420 resident armed forces personnel in B&NES 5
  • There are approximately 40-50 MOD personnel stationed in Bath and North East Somerset as of July 2014, with over half of these civillians6
  • The British Legion estimates there were just over 9,300 ex-service personnel as of August 2012, with 62% aged over 657
  • There are 14 MOD accommodation units in Keynsham and Bath serving Abbeywood, with 9 homes in Keynsham for all ranks and 5 in Bath for officers8
  • There are 4 Army Reserve Unit’s based in Bath and Keynsham, totalling 339 personnel, with the majority attached to the 243 (Wessex) Field Hospital9
  • Just over 100 children in the Local authority are eligible for Service Pupil Premium 10 (including LA schools, academies and special schools) 11;
        • This amounts to approximately £30,000 of available funding
        • Approximately 44% are based in schools in Bath, with the next largest concentration in Keynsham schools (approximately 26%)
        • The majority (approximately 47%) of eligible children are in Local Authority primary schools

Armed Forces Pension and Compensation recipients in B&NES 12

Data as of March 2015 showed a total of 1,030 armed forces pension and compensation recipients in B&NES of which 960 were veterans. The vast majority are receiving an armed forces pension (either under the AFPS or the old WPS pension scheme – see link to guidance below) while just under 200 are receiving a disablement pension and just over 50 are counted as war widow(er)s. 35 were receiving  benefit under the compensation scheme.

For more details on Armed forces occupational pension schemes Click here

Are we meeting the needs?

Community Covenants 13

Community covenants compliment, at a local level, the armed forces covenant, which outlines the moral obligation between the nation, the government and the armed forces. The aim of the community covenant is to encourage local communities to support the armed forces community in their area and promote understanding and awareness among the public of issues affecting the armed forces community.

Local authorities and the armed forces community are encouraged to work together to establish a community covenant in their area in order to:

  • encourage local communities to support the armed forces community in their areas and to nurture public understanding and awareness among the public of issues affecting the armed forces community
  • recognise and remember the sacrifices faced by the armed forces community
  • encourage activities which help to integrate the armed forces community into local life
  • encourage the armed forces community to help and support the wider community, whether through participation in events and joint projects, or other forms of engagement