LOCAL ARMED FORCES PROJECT HAILED AS EXEMPLAR FOR WALES

Aberavon AM, David Rees, had praised the work of local project ‘ExTRA’, established by NSA in Sandfields, and has called on the Welsh Government to launch a similar scheme across Wales. His comments came in a speech on Wednesday (9/11/11) calling for more effective support for ex-armed forces personnel in light of a recent study by the Royal British Legion.

The Royal British Legion study called ‘Health, Welfare and Social needs of the Armed Forces community’ found that many of the 9 million people they support were experiencing a range of difficulties. The most common problems included depression, stress, cognitive impairment, pain, financial hardships, lack of employment and difficulties accessing benefits. Common social problems included loneliness, complications adjusting to civilian life, social isolation and difficulties with new or existing relationships.

David Rees AM said:
“ExTRA has been specifically designed to help ex-servicemen and women break down barriers that may prevent them from gaining employment, re-training or volunteering. The project also works in partnership with the Healing the Wounds Charity which specialises in supporting individuals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The project is led by an ex-serviceman who can understand the enduring impact that military service has on people’s lives. This project has already helped many ex-military personnel in Aberavon rebuild their lives.”

David Rees has called on the Welsh Government to look at the ExTRA project as a pilot scheme which should be developed across all local authorities

David Rees AM added:
“The 3,000 Military personnel that are stationed here in Wales, together with their families, are an integral part of Welsh society, and most of us here cannot even begin to understand how service in the Armed Forces has impacted, and continues to impact on their lives. However, there is no more fitting way to recognise the work they do than to provide them with the services, support and respect that they need and deserve”

One constituent, who has been helped by the ExTRA project, is an ex-Infantry Soldier with the 1st Royal Welsh Regiment who, at 29 years old, had been discharged from the army, was suffering with an illness and had been unemployed for 2 years. ExTRA was able to help him develop an action plan to overcome barriers to work and develop his confidence. They secured funding to help pay his employer towards his first year of employment and contacted the British Legion who are helping him put together a deposit and a month’s rent so he can move into accommodation in Port Talbot. The project provides the practical support that is needed by many who leave the service and return to civilian life.