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Soldiers' helpline charity launched

A special helpline for traumatised soldiers coming home from the Middle East is to be officially launched.

The government-funded 24-hour facility aims to help Afghan or Iraqi campaign veterans suffering from mental health issues.

A £200,000 grant has been handed to the Rethink charity for a one-year pilot scheme, following an announcement last year of measures to help soldiers coming to grips with issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

One in four of those who served in Iraq are thought to have suffered a mental health issue of some kind.

The number - 0800 138 1619 - is effective now, said health minister Simon Burns.

He said the service was "part of the government's commitment to deliver the best possible health outcomes to veterans", adding: "This funding will provide veterans and their families with a service that will help and support them whenever and wherever they need it. This is also a great example of how the expertise of charities can be used to foster a stronger and healthier society."

Families will also be able to call the line to speak to people trained in dealing with ex-service men and women.

Later this year, the scheme, which also involves experts from the charity Combat Stress, will expand to include text and email.

Copyright © Press Association 2011


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"This is a great development and much needed service. To be able to discuss their issues or experiences with professional experienced staff is so important" - Michelle Cox, Liverpool