'Routine screening would stop suffering'

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The Independent Online

I am surprised by the high incidence of PTSD in my constituency. Various governments have been slow to recognise the condition and, while it is now well understood, I am not sure we are delivering as we should.

For instance, it would be good if, every three or five years, veterans were given routine medical appointments for check-ups and to ask if they have any problems. Many servicemen and women would not want to take advantage of this, but it would be very helpful to others.

Many individuals who end up serving in the armed forces come from disruptive backgrounds; they are vulnerable individuals, no matter how robust and aggressive they seem when serving. They are likely to need after-sales service when they return to those environments.

Five years after I left the Army, I went to have my injuries looked at and had frostbite in my foot diagnosed. It was dealt with there and then, preventing further deterioration. Added health benefits such as this could flow from screening.

Establishing a screening system would not be costly and would undoubtedly save longer-term costs arising from suffering left unattended. MPs need to get a grip on this issue and act.

Patrick Mercer is chairman of the Newark Patriotic Fund which helps soldiers returning from war, and their families