Anne-Maria Olphert: Improving mental health care for veterans in Lincolnshire

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This weekend, the people of Lincolnshire will join millions of others across the country and fall silent for a few moments as a mark of respect to remember the fallen.

Remembrance commemorations for those who have given their lives in conflict, or been injured in service are as vitally important today as they have ever been and something I feel very passionate about.

For Lincolnshire, our strong armed forces tradition is always ever present and so it’s crucial that our mental health services are as inclusive as possible and open to those from the services who may, from time-to-time, need our specialist support.

Transferring from military to civilian life can often be a traumatic experience, not least for those who have experienced the harsh reality of warfare first hand or been left with the physical and mental scars that can so often be a consequence.

It is for this reason that I am immensely proud of the continued close working that Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT) enjoys with the armed forces – something that was recently cemented by the official signing of the Armed Forces Covenant.

The covenant is an agreement between our two organisations to ensure that those from the armed forces and their families are always treated with the respect they deserve, with access to the same services as everyone else.

It is also a pledge to support those in our own workforce who may be volunteer reservists, offering flexibility wherever possible to accommodate their selfless duties.

The skills and experiences that reservists can bring to the NHS should never be underestimated and are always welcomed by the trust.

This commitment to the armed forces community has always been a high priority for LPFT, with staff in our Veterans’ Mental Health Services working tirelessly with the charity Combat Stress and local colleagues from the Royal British Legion, to improve the quality and access to mental health provision for those from the military, their carers and families.

We also have a dedicated inpatient facility at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, for people from the armed forces who are suffering from serious mental health problems and need our help and support to recover.

So as we approach this weekend of remembrance for fallen heroes – lest we forget those of us in society today – who are perhaps battling on against hidden demons, which may not always be apparent in the first instance.

It is these people we must also continue to support and constantly keep in our thoughts as we journey with them down their individual roads to mental health recovery.

We will remember them.

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