SOLDIERS in trouble with the law due to post-traumatic stress disorder are being failed by the justice system, a senior Nat has warned.
Owen Thompson claims at-risk veterans with criminal records are “falling through the cracks” due to a lack of support.
While figures show there were 243 former soldiers in Scottish prisons as of July, the number of people serving non-custodial sentences is unknown.
And it has led to fears of a “forgotten army” of veterans who need psychological help because of trauma suffered during military service.
Now Mr Thompson has written to Holyrood Justice Secretary Angela Constance calling for an urgent review of the support available.
The SNP MP told The Scottish Sun: “It is disheartening that people who have sacrificed so much for our nation are not receiving the help they need to overcome traumatic experiences suffered during their military service.”
He called for new measures to address the shortfalls, adding: “It is critical that we build a comprehensive support network that addresses the unique needs of our veterans and ensures their successful reintegration into society.”
Former soldier Calum MacLeod, now a community payback officer, described the lack of figures as a “serious omission”.
He said: “We have created a growing, forgotten army of ex-servicemen who are now fighting and in conflict with the justice system. “We must give these people a chance. People are hurt mentally and physically while serving their country, but then the state turns its back in the form of the Department of Defense and the justice system.
“These people are in the system but are not identified as veterans, even though the cause of their crimes is often their military service.
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“That’s a shame.”
Veterans Minister Graeme Dey said he visited Shotts Prison in Lanarkshire to hear about the experiences of former soldiers in custody.
Mr Dey added: “We are working to better support people with mental illness within the criminal justice system, including mentoring and priority NHS treatment for veterans with a service-connected illness.”
“We also support organizations that support the health and wellbeing of veterans through our Scottish Veterans’ Fund.”
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