Two-fifths of Scottish veterans report feeling isolated

More than a third of veterans living in Scotland have reported feeling lonely or isolated after leaving the forces, a poll has found.

Many ex-servicemen and women complain of feeling isolated after leaving the Armed Forces. Picture: Neil Hanna/TSPL

YouGov research commissioned by SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, found that two fifths (40 per cent) of veterans surveyed have felt socially excluded since moving back to civvy street.

When asked if they have ever felt overwhelmed by negative feelings, a third (34 per cent) of the veterans surveyed said they had. 28 per cent admitted to having suicidal thoughts after finishing their military service.

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Three in ten of the veterans polled admitted (30 per cent) they have just one or no close friends and would be unlikely to discuss any feelings of loneliness with a family member or close friend (58 per cent), suggesting a limited support network for these veterans.

The most common reasons veterans gave for feeling lonely and isolated included: losing touch with friends in the forces (43 per cent), physical or mental health issues (41 per cent), struggling to relate to anybody in civilian life (34 per cent), and struggling to fit into civilian life (25 per cent).

A third (33 percent) of the veterans surveyed stated that they felt they would benefit from meeting someone regularly from a military background to talk to someone who can empathise with their experience of the Armed Forces.

The SSAFA, formerly known as the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association, is now calling on the public to join its fight against isolation in veterans through its personal face-to-face support.

Charity chief executive Sir Andrew Gregory said: “Isolation and loneliness is a growing issue across society that affects young and old alike. A great strength of military service is the team ethos, sense of comradeship and belonging that flows from being part of a group with a common purpose and shared values.

“Our research shows just how many Scottish veterans can become isolated as they struggle to adjust to life after the forces. SSAFA is already seeing a growing number of younger veterans in need who are benefitting from our personal face-to-face advice through our local trained volunteer network.”