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NHS scheme is helping Wigan veterans return to ‘civvy street’
Thursday 7th February, 2013

Help is on hand for veterans in Wigan who need support with drug and alcohol addiction, unemployment, debt, family breakdown or housing issues.

NHS programme Live At Ease offers free one-to-one support to veterans and their families so they can cope with the practical and emotional issues that often arise when people make the switch from service to ‘civvy street'.

Former soldier Wayne Reilly from Wigan had problems adjusting to civilian life after leaving the Royal Artillery. “Things fell apart when I left the army. I turned to drink and violence and that led to the breakdown of two marriages. I lost access to my kids, became homeless and in serious debt. No one seemed to understand - I felt depressed and lost all pride in myself.”

Live At Ease put Wayne in touch with a money adviser and specialist employment agency. “Live At Ease made me feel like I wasn’t alone and that someone understood what I was going through. I’m now getting my debts under control and receiving support to find the right kind of civilian job.”

The Wigan area is home to over 22,500 veterans. Nearly 1,000 of them sustained an injury significant enough to receive a War Pension or Armed Forces Compensation, indicating their potential health or social care needs.

Live At Ease was commissioned after research showed that treatment for conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression were much more effective amongst the ex-forces community if non-clinical issues were dealt with first.

Veterans may find themselves drinking too much to cope with big life changes or they might struggle to deal with the strain that resettlement puts on family relationships. Housing is another issue, as many veterans have relied on forces accommodation in the past.

Many ex-forces personnel find it hard to translate military skills to civvy jobs and have problems finding work. Others have difficulty managing money as they find themselves in charge of bills again and often have to survive on a low income.

Live At Ease pulls together the services offered by existing military organisations and charities, voluntary groups, the NHS and Probation Service and provides one point of contact for veterans seeking help.

Each client has a dedicated adviser who puts a support plan together and ensures they quickly get the right support.

Anyone who has ever served in the forces and lives in the North West can use Live At Ease. They may have left the military yesterday or 40 years ago. The programme is also available to their families.

Michael True, head of service for Live At Ease said, “Research shows that many ex-forces men and women find the transition to civvy street challenging. Live At Ease provides immediate support to help with these practical and emotional challenges. If they aren’t addressed they can often lead to long term physical and mental health problems.”

For more information on Live At Ease call 0808 123 1 123 (free from landlines), text for free 07537 404 535, email info@liveat-ease.org.uk or visit www.liveat-ease.org.uk

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