Published on: 11th January 2024
This week, the NHS has launched a new campaign to highlight its Op COURAGE service which provides specialist care, support and treatment to former Armed Forces personnel, reservists, and service leavers with mental health and wellbeing issues.
Support through OP COURAGE is provided by trained professionals from the Armed Forces community or with extensive experience of working with the military.
Mark Hatfield, 62 and from Manchester, joined the army when he was 18 and served for 17 years.
Mark said: “When I left the army in the early 1990s I didn’t receive any support. I knew I was suffering but just threw myself into work, going from job to job. It was in my 50s that everything became too much. I felt suicidal and knew I had to stop running away from my problems.
"Through Op COURAGE I’ve received the support and treatment I need. My therapist Claire has been amazing. I know my mental health issues will always be there – but I now know how to manage it.”
Mark also now volunteers with Walking with the Wounded, an armed forces charity that works in partnership with Op COURAGE.
Mark adds: “I support other veterans – it really helps me that I’m helping others. They know that I understand the experiences they have gone through, give them hope in their own personal road to recovery.”
Former Royal Marine, Invictus Games medallist and TV presenter JJ Chalmers, said:
"If you’ve served in the Armed Forces, you’re forever part of this community of people who have a shared history, but even with people around you, it can be so difficult to ask for help and support when you need it most. Recognising when you need to reach out is the first hurdle and fellow veterans can help so much with this, as they’ve been through it too.
“The wonderful thing about Op COURAGE, is that it has been developed by veterans, for veterans – the trained NHS professionals you’ll speak to are from the Armed Forces or have experience of working with the community. They really get where you’ve come from.
“I remember how hard it was adjusting to life after the military, getting to grips with civvy street after everything I went through in Afghanistan. Having a service like the Op COURAGE to support you is invaluable.”
We (Pennine Care) host the Op COURAGE service across the Northwest of England, combining our practitioners with others from Leeds and York NHS FT, Walking With The Wounded and Combat Stress.