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Email Campaign Drive


Lantern Swinger
Medical Discharge War Pension forum

We have a very small window for this side of the campaign to work. To that end we need to ask as many friends and family members to send this email to their MP. This will give them some a choice on whether they support our troops or not. If they fail to give a reply to your request then you have your answer.

Please tell us if you have sent this to your MP. Thanks to the site for its continued support.


These are both search engines to locate your MP. Select one of them and find your MP’s email address. Good Luck

Dear ……………………. Your MPs details

All service personnel attending a Medical Discharge Board (MDB) deserve concise advice and guidance and for them to be fair and transparent. There needs to be equal footing for service personnel so they can make qualified judgements about their future after leaving the armed forces. Service personnel need to know how Medical Discharge Boards work, who sits on them, what their role is, advice about social security benefits, their rights and reliable answers about discharge. People attending these boards should also have the right to take along a nominated colleague or friend as candidates can find the Board intimidating. We also believe that there need to be set tariffs at discharge.

In addition to the above, we believe it is essential that a member of the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA) should be present at the final Board and have read through all the medical documents for the person who is being discharged.
They should have had one full meeting with this person at least four weeks before the final board, so at the final MDB, the SPVA will have all paperwork for a war pension completed. All the Benefit forms including Incapacity, Mobility, Carers Allowance, Housing Benefits etc will have been completed and if appropriate an exemption certificate for prescriptions will have been issued, this would allow the person to get any medication they require free of charge.

There should be better liaison between the SPVA and outside agencies such as the NHS and specialist medical advisors so that medical treatment can be seamlessly continued after discharge. I urge you to lobby for one Tri-service MDB (instead of the present three). This would save money and needless confusion for people attending them.

Yours truly,

………………………Your Name

[email protected]

Rt Hon Gordon Brown Prime Minister, Rt Hon Bob Ainsworth MP (Secretary of State for Defence) Mr Kevan Jones MP (Minister for Veterans)

On 17 December 2009 I outlined to the Prime Minister the problems that exist with the armed forces medical discharge system. I asked why the MoD hadn’t streamlined the discharge boards into one Tri-Service Medical Board System – which would save costs and needless complexities. The answer One Common Cause received on the 16th March 2010 did not answer the questions I raised but led to other questions such as:

1. The SPVA only become further involved once a decision to discharge has been reached (90 days before discharge) I would be interested to know where you received this information from because it is not correct. If you had asked the appropriate question the SPVA would tell you that they are not permitted any documents on people being discharged until they are out of the military system. The mental health welfare teams are lucky if they get any information on those leaving with PTSD or other disablement. Can you tell me if you intend to change this?

2. Former personnel who are on the old pensions system will not be given a pension forecast. Why is this and will it changed? If so, when will it be changed?

3. Service personnel that are medically discharged on the old pension system have no idea about their percentage of disability before they leave the services – instead it is sent to them over a period of 8 weeks to 12 month timeframe. This is why so many veterans go to appeal. If the Government do care about service personnel after their discharge surely it would be better to calculate their pension before they leave the services? Or is there a specific reason why they are not told?

However, we do have other concerns about the summary notes sent by the Ministry of Defence concerning the discharge system outlined in the Government’s Improved Care for Veterans and Severely Injured Service Personnel paper. The following questions were faxed to the 10 Downing Street Communications Centre on 18 January this year. We are still waiting a reply.

1. Will charity funding play a large part in this whole enterprise coming to fruition and if so why? How will local Primary Care Trusts fund this?

2. How will the third sector charities be able to access funding for veterans that wish to receive therapies outside of the NHS? I have in mind specialist providers such as the Talking2minds whose therapeutic process has been designed specifically for PTSD and is achieving outstanding results?

3. Who will be the NHS interface for third sector charities that wish to engage with the NHS?

4. What organisation is going to assess the long term needs for injured service personnel and who will stipulate if an injury is most serious? As you know the cooperation between military and civilian health authorities is a new relationship

5. According to a number of sources it takes an average of 14 years to be diagnosed with PTSD. Many veterans who suffer from stress related disorders have a multiple of incorrect diagnosis over this 14 year period. How specifically is the comprehensive assessment going to be able to identify the long term needs of a mentally injured person when the existing formats for diagnostics are so inaccurate?

6. Help for Heroes is to build seven new hospitals for military personnel. What provision is there for complementary and alternative therapies within this structure and how do third sector charities interface with them.

7. What training will NHS case workers have so they can relate to the experiences, needs and the tailored psychology of those who have been in the armed forces? It worries me that we have a system where ex-Service personnel who are sent for review of their medical condition for war pension purposes are assessed by civilian staff.

With all due respect, these people have no understanding about how ex-armed forces people think especially when you recognise that they display compliant behaviour to authority have a lot of pride in themselves and to admit a weakness or ill health is difficult for a veteran to do. In the reverse of this-shown by Talking 2minds which employs ex
armed forces personnel to treat ex-armed forces personnel.

8. The grant funding of £140,000 (which is point three in the Whitehall paper) is being matched by whom? Combat Stress is changing to become more of a drug and drink rehabilitation centre so can you tell me where these centres will be based and how many sessions offered by Combat Stress will be allocated for each individual seeking their help?

9. A total of £73 million pounds has been allocated to PTSD by the Government. What percentage is annexed for third sector charities and how is this to be accessed by those charities that currently deal with veteran’s health and mental health issues?

10. Closer NHS links with full range of third sector partners and charities. Who will oversee the process and coordination? I have worked for the NHS, and I can tell you now there is a massive void in communication between one department and another that is why NHS employees feel let down and undervalued.

11. An entitlement for all veterans who have lost limbs whilst serving in the armed forces to receive, where clinically appropriate, the same standard of prosthetic limb from the NHS that they received or would receive today from Defence Medical Services as a result of major technological advances.

* What if a veteran has to loss a limb due to complications with an ongoing war pension condition.
* The word clinically appropriate allows the NHS a means in which they don't have to provide the same standard of prosthetic limb.
* Clinical would also imply that any process, therapy or technology that has not had 15 years worth of empirical data presented to Nice for its ratification will not be entertained.

My main concern would be the expected costs required to run such a scheme. The medical provision that’s in place at present for mental health is largely drug-based and CBT/EMDR orientated which is expensive and encourages dependencies compared to other systems such as that run by talking2minds.

12. Responsible Directors within each Strategic Health Authority. Is this a statement that some Directors aren't responsible within the SHA. What experience of military life is going to be required for PCT champions- it's impossible for anyone outside a military background to understand what needs are required by the armed forces, their family members and our countries veterans. It looks great on paper but not towards working strategy.

13. The requirement of all medical documentation on service leavers to be transferred to GPs. This shouldn't be selective records.

14. What is the feedback from veterans on the six mental health pilot schemes being run by the NHS? I have heard from veterans who have attended these pilot schemes, only to say they're rubbish and not enough is known about the military or what is expected of a soldier. Other credible sources such as talking2minds raised the point, in the Combat Stress Mental Health Summit in 2009, that the pilot projects do nothing different therapeutically than is already being done by Combat Stress and the NHS. When challenged the NHS representatives admitted that their current methods were not working and that charities like talking2minds should be applauded for their innovative approach in getting veterans back to health quickly.

15. Combat Stress was used not only to treat PTSD but also as a respite for the veteran and the family of that suffering person. What will be put in place to support this area in the future?

16. I’d like to raise a question about the Integrated Care Pathway for mental health for veterans. Though very welcome, the area of concern has to be the NHS’ ability to deliver on its commitment towards this venture. I refer particularly to the low ratio of psychiatrist to client and the need for the psychiatrist to have either an armed forces background or to have been coached in how ex-military personnel think. Can you tell me what is being done (if anything) to recruit more psychiatrists who have a Service background and if mental health welfare teams are being trained in how to treat former armed forces personnel? I think training in the latter is critical because it would allow for greater rapport and become aware of slight changes in their client’s mood as ex-Services personnel are not very trusting towards those without a service background or who lack an in depth understanding of service life.

There are of course many more points to address. Admittedly letters take time to answer but this could easily be circumvented by Kevan Jones agreeing to a face-to-face meeting. One final question I’d like an answer to is: Is the Government right to streamline the SPVA? The SPVA provides an invaluable service both to the veteran and their family but will this service be damaged by constant cost cutting?


Lantern Swinger
We still have today in which to get this to their offices in London and Constituencies. Thanks to site for its support.



Lantern Swinger
A big thanks you to all those that sent a copy of the above email. We have had a lot of replies already from Ministers. I would also like to thank Rumration for its continued support.


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