I have a deep connection to the military – members of my family have fought in many wars and at all levels. My great-grandfather Robert McMillan served as a doctor with the Canadian Army in the First World War. It was an experience that left him troubled for the rest of his life.
He never spoke about his experiences of the war, and rarely showed any emotion to his family after returning. He probably suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an affliction which affects some servicemen and women and veterans now. But this was 100 years ago and it was a very different time.
In one way, he was lucky – his family supported him throughout his life even though he was a very changed character. That family support is not always there today for those who suffer with PTSD or similar troubles when returning to civilian life.
If my great-grandfather had fought in one of the recent conflicts, he might have found himself in a similar situation to some of today’s veterans. Dealing with the experiences and traumas of war leaves many physical and mental scars which can affect life for the whole family, as it did for Robert. So it’s vital that we provide support for our servicemen and -women whenever they may need it.
This campaign highlights a critical issue within the veteran community: leaving the security of the forces and making the transition to civilian life can be very tough. With added issues of PTSD, limited housing or the breakdown of families, some men and women are left in desperate situations.
The sacrifices made by the people in my family, or in the millions of other families throughout the UK, should never be forgotten. No veteran should ever find themselves without a home and if we all work together we can stop that happening.