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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Veterans booklet

November 12 2009
Help at hand for homeless ex-service men and women There are about half a million veterans in Scotland, a tenth of the Scottish population. Most do well and go on to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives after leaving service. However, others fare badly and can find it difficult to readjust to civilian life after living in military regimes, and many have experienced stigma and other negative reactions. To help tackle the problem a project was funded by the Scottish Veterans Society to provide a practical guide for working with ex-servicemen. James Dalrymple of mental health charity SAMH and Malcolm Luing, a former military social worker, wrote and compiled the document and constructed the evidence base with support from Combat Stress and other veteran and non-service agencies. The resultant 'Life Force: A Practical Guide for Working With Scotland's Veterans' details information for community agencies that provide first contact and ongoing support for veterans. These agencies had experience of working with veterans, but had no specialist advice on the issues that they face, or the difficulties they may have had. The guide provides a practical understanding of how to best identify and work with veterans and their families, as well as signposting information for appropriate support. One of the specific issues and concern it raises is homelessness. Single servicemen are particularly vulnerable on discharge, because they have may have no satisfactory accommodation arrangements and they can then fall into a cycle of joblessness. The difficulty is often compounded if the veteran is returning to an area of high unemployment, leading to mental health problems including stress, depression, anger, drugs and alcohol abuse. Contributor Paul Haylor, from Veterans First Point, works with homeless veterans. He says: "We find out out how the veteran became homeless and help to obtain accommodation and prepare an action plan. We primarily use Whitefoord House Edinburgh (part of the Scottish Veterans Housing Association which provides accommodation across Scotland), If the veteran has mental health problems medical service is provided by the Edinburgh Homeless Practice." The free guide is available to all community agencies working with veterans who may require support, as well as Citizen's Advice Bureaus in Scotland - and now a proposal is underway to extend distribution to GPs practices.