SSAFA Ambassador Antony Cotton encourages people to come forward for help
Antony Cotton, Coronation Street actor and SSAFA's first celebrity ambassador, is encouraging people to come forward and get help from SSAFA, in light of shocking results from research that found that more than two in five of British Armed Forces veterans surveyed have felt lonely or isolated at some point since leaving the military.
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"As an extremely proud Ambassador for SSAFA, The Armed Forces Charity, I would like to bring to your attention some recent research that the charity has carried out, which looks at loneliness and isolation experienced by working-aged veterans.
Many of my closest friends are from the Forces community - both currently serving and veterans. It saddens and horrifies me that so many of our brave servicemen and women are dealing with these devastating circumstances alone.
The research shows an alarming rate of isolation and despondency amongst younger veterans. More than a third reported that they felt overwhelmed by negative feelings since leaving the Armed Forces and just over a quarter have experienced suicidal thoughts.
Reasons for this isolation include losing touch with friends and colleagues in the Armed Forces, physical or mental health issues and struggling to relate to people in civilian life. In fact, a third of veterans agreed that it was difficult to open up to people from a non-military background and almost a quarter admitted to struggling to fit into civilian life.
Many of our veterans are facing relationship breakdown, substance abuse, homelessness and mental health issues, without the relevant help and support. This is just not acceptable.
I have seen this isolation and loneliness first hand. I have had the great privilege of listening to their stories, and being welcomed into their community like one of their own, and that really is an honour. I feel it is my duty - not just as an ambassador of SSAFA but as a human being, to do all I can to help.
Our country owes a debt of gratitude to our Armed Forces, and that includes our veterans. They have had our back and I believe that as a society, it’s time that we had theirs. Surely this is the very least they deserve?
I encourage any local veterans who are struggling, to come forward and get help from SSAFA.
The charity has been providing lifelong support to our Forces and their families since 1885. Every year its staff and team of volunteers help more than 60,000 people, from WW2 veterans to young men and women who have served in Afghanistan and Syria.