Building a brighter future for struggling servicemen

Published:  02 June, 2011

SUNDERLAND: Ex-servicemen struggling to settle into civilian life are being given a helping hand by a leading North East business.

Thompson Building Centres has offered its support to not-for-profit organisation Military Mental Health. after learning that thousands of former soldiers, sailors and air force personnel in the region are suffering mental health problems after leaving the services.

The company has not only offered free office space at its Commercial Road headquarters to the organisation and the use of its training facilities, but has also offered to help fund further training for its founder, former army corporal Gary Cameron.

Mr Cameron, 45, from Seaham, spent nine years in the Army Medical Corps, during which he saw active service in Northern Ireland. He founded Military Mental Health in 2008 to give practical and emotional support to military veterans as well as to train NHS staff in the issues which affect them.

He said: “I was by no means the only one to find life on the outside difficult to deal with. Between 4500 and 5000 ex-military men and women return to the North East every year and they find it very hard to adjust.

“In the services they are told what to wear and when to wear it, what to eat and when to eat it and they are given a job and a roof over their head. When they leave, that’s it. They often have to start from scratch and the strangeness of it all can overwhelm them – that’s when the problems start.”

Thompson’s managing director Anne Ganley was introduced to Military Mental Health by organisers of The Brothers in Arms Appeal, which raised funds for a memorial wall in Sunderland’s Mowbray Park honouring servicemen and women killed in combat and training since the Second World War.

Mrs Ganley was a strong support of the Brothers In Arms, giving the organisation free office space when they needed it which she has now given to Mr Cameron for the next six months along with part-funding specialised counselling training for him.

“What Gary is trying to do for the ex-service men and women in this area is really important and we are really happy to be able to offer him some help and support for this worthwhile organisations,” said Mrs Ganley.

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