Remembrance Day has us all reflecting on the military services in our country and the contribution they make to our lives. We thank them for their service and honour them on Sunday, but do we consider how we contribute to them? Those who make up the armed services may seem like invincible creatures who can do basically everything, but does that mean we care for them during and, most importantly, after their service? Members of the armed forces actually rely on the social care sector greatly when their service ends for many reasons. Firstly, to help them adapt to civilian life, in particular caring for their mental health, which is naturally affected after traumatic experiences during their service. Another area where they rely on external support though is when they grow older and need to rely on adult social care services, potentially with live-in care or residential care homes.
Sometimes it can be easy to forget that those who serve are individuals with lives that extend beyond their military careers and as they grow older, those lives need support in the same way that most other adults do. Considering they put their lives on the line to protect our freedom, there’s naturally an emotional pull to ensure we’re helping members of the armed forces in the best way we can. Caring for them in their old age is the very least we can do. But how can we know we’re contributing? How can we be sure we’re helping to care?
If you don’t have time to volunteer within the social care sector or the expertise to come up with an innovative scheme to supply care in an easier fashion, then one easy way to know you’re helping is to buy a poppy. The Poppy Appeal is held every year throughout the period of Remembrance (October/November) by The Royal British Legion, to help fund the lifelong support of members of the armed forces and their families. The Legion has six care homes for veterans and any dependants, so the donations help to provide residential care to ex-servicemen and women who require it, among other services. By increasing their capacity as care providers, we can help The Royal British Legion give more veterans quality care in their old age. And sometimes all it takes is to cough up a bit of small change to someone collecting donations on your morning commute.
Naturally there are so many more ways to support members of the armed forces within the social care sector than just donating to The Royal British Legion. There are support groups for their families and mental health charities who always need fundraising or volunteers. The NHS is looking into developing educational packages to help health and social care professionals understand the needs of veterans better. You could even build your own community of local veterans to give them an emotional support system who can truly empathise. Or maybe you just help care for your veteran neighbour by running errands for them or providing them with much needed company. So, whether you want to donate, participate or educate; there’s no shortage of ways you can make a contribution back to those who protected us. It’s the same effort we should make for all our elderly people, but especially this time of year, let’s find a way to show the veterans that the social care sector is here to protect and care for them now. Even if it’s just with a poppy.