Gordon Marsden has taken the plight of veterans to Parliament.
The Labour MP for Blackpool South acted days after saying it was a “disgrace” that in an NHS budget of over £150 billion, less than £10 million a year – or 0.007 per cent – has been allocated to military veteran-specific mental health services.
He described the funding as “inadequate”, and also criticised the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) for saying coroners could not begin to collect data on the number of British ex-forces personnel who take their own lives.
His comments came after The Gazette’s investigation found there was no available data on suicide among veterans.
And, in three urgent questions to the ministries of Justice and Defence, Mr Marsden asked what information is held on the number of veterans who have killed themselves in the past five years; what discussions the Justice department has had with the office of the chief coroner on the recording of military vet suicides; and what talks have been held between the Justice and Defence ministries on “enabling coroners to access departmental information to determine whether a person on whom an inquest has been held where the verdict was suicide was a veteran”.
The MoJ said it was too complex for coroners to record veteran suicides, in particular because of the potential difficulties of accurately establishing a victim’s occupational history. Allied nations like the US and Canada record the number of suicides closely, however.
Resort war hero Sgt Rick Clement, who was badly injured in Afghanistan, said recording the figures would force the government to face up to the problem.
The 39-year-old, now living in Fleetwood, said: “I think most people would be shocked by the figures that come out.”