Homelessness woes of town's old soldiers
FORMER Llanelli soldiers are suffering homelessness on the town's streets as they struggle to cope with the mental aftermath of military action, a retired lieutenant colonel has warned.
Chris Downward said that among the issues faced by ex-service personnel on their return to civilian life were housing, financial and mental health problems arising from the horrors of conflict.
This week, the Llanelli Star launches a new campaign to help look after our war heroes in their time of need.
Mr Downward said: "There are ex-servicemen homeless on the streets of Llanelli.
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"There are very, very brave ex-soldiers living in Llanelli who deserve more support than they are getting.
"They just want to know that they are valued and that they belong to the local community."
The Star's Forever a Hero campaign will put the spotlight on public services to ensure they do everything they can and should do to look after and support the men and women who put their lives on the line for the sake of our country.
And it calls on the public to do whatever they can to repay our debt to these heroes and their families.
It comes after organisations across the region formally pledged to do more to help ex-servicemen.
They signed up to a community covenant which aims to ensure there is no disadvantage, for example in accessing public services as a result of service in the armed forces, and to allow special treatment where justified — such as in the case of injured personnel.
Mr Downward said: "It's a question of how they fit into society.
"Don't forget, they have lived in a very self-contained environment for a long time so coming back into civilian life is a big deal.
"Suddenly fitting back into civilian life again is hard. What they need is support in the local community to adjust.
"They don't want to get something for nothing, they just want to be treated as normal. Some of them may have mental health problems."
Veteran Council of Wales member Derek Morgans, who attended the launch of the covenant, estimated that 200 to 300 veterans were in desperate need of help across South West Wales.
He said: "Homelessness is a hidden problem.
"They are very proud people, they fought for their country up to their knees in muck and bullets."