Thursday, 20 June 2019

Questions (46)

Jack Chambers


46. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the mental health supports and services available for ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25904/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Deputy will be aware that a range of both medical and non-medical services are provided to serving members of the Defence Forces who experience traumatic events in the line of duty. These include:

- Access to Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) in the event of a traumatic incident;

- A network of Personnel Support Service (PSS) Officers and occupational social workers at formation, unit and barrack level, which also provides some limited support to veterans;

- A 24-hour confidential counselling, referral and support helpline;

- Primary medical care from a dedicated team of Defence Forces Medical Officers and contracted civilian GPs, whose role it is to assess, diagnose, treat and refer individuals for psychiatric and psychological assessment, as appropriate;

- Clinical psychiatric and psychological treatment, as necessary; and

- For those personnel deploying overseas, a rigorous programme of training which includes briefing by qualified PSS staff on critical incidents and their effects, stress management and wellness.

All efforts are made to ensure that any serving personnel who experience traumatic events, avail of access to all available supports.

I recognise the valued contribution made by ex-service personnel to the State. As with other members of society, former members of the Permanent Defence Force can experience difficulties. In such circumstances they have access to the range of supports available to all citizens.

My Department works with the recognised Veterans Associations to help them deliver services to their members who may experience difficulties post-retirement. In recognition of their ongoing valuable work in representing veterans, an annual subvention is made to in the order of €100,000 to ONE and €11,000 to IUNVA. This is to assist them in their support work and branch and drop-in centre networks across the country.