Armed forces - Young veterans need help, too

SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has been providing vital support for our troops, veterans and their families for 131 years and is the oldest, national military charity in the UK.

While attention can often be focused on the problems faced by older, retired veterans, SSAFA has identified a group of working-age veterans between 16 and 64 years of age who are living in pretty desperate circumstances.

Although most troops transition well, these men and women are not fulfilling their potential in civilian life and their plight is too easily ignored.

In 2005, 25 per cent of the people SSAFA supported across the UK were under 60 years of age; 10 years later, this figure had risen to over 40 per cent, showing a trend in younger veterans needing support.

Many of these younger veterans who are being helped by SSAFA tell us that, for a long time after leaving the Armed Forces, they felt too proud to ask for help.

SSAFA’s current ‘Got Your Back’ campaign is encouraging vulnerable veterans to come forward for help.

We understand that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen are resilient characters.

While serving the nation, they become fitter, more robust and more self-sufficient; they are rightly proud of their role and of themselves.

If any readers are in need of support and they are veterans or currently serving members of the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force, or indeed their family members, please contact SSAFA’s confidential forces line on 0800 731 4880 or email

SSAFA feels very strongly that members of our Armed Forces and their families have had our backs and now we must, whenever necessary, protect theirs.

Lieutenant General Sir Andrew Gregory

Chief executive