As part of the 95th anniversary of the charity Combat Stress, Prince Charles recently gave a speech about the organisation at St James’s Palace to mark this milestone.
As well as meeting supporters of the charity, of which Prince Charles is Patron, the Prince also met veterans at the event. Part of the speech saw the Prince of Wales stress that, although most veterans depart the Armed Forces not needing extra support, there is a “profound and essential duty to care for those who carry the invisible scars of conflict”.
The Prince of Wales continued by thanking his audience for undertaking that duty of care. The speech also reminded people that Charles took over the role of Patron of Combat Stress from his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. The Queen Mother was the long-standing Patron of the Armed Forces Welfare Association, which is what Combat Stress was formerly known as.
Combat Stress was founded in 1919 under the original name of the Ex-servicemen’s Welfare Society and they opened their first recuperative home in Putney Hill, South West London, in 1920. When the charity was first formed, attitudes to those who suffered with mental health issues during their service life received little or no sympathy at all. As is common knowledge, at the end of the First World War many soldiers returned home with shell shock and many were contained in Mental War Hospitals under Martial Law. The charity currently works with over 5,400 veterans and it spends more than £14 million each year; the money that is spent goes on to help veterans with mental ill-health and post traumatic stress disorder, amongst many other conditions.
The founders of Combat Stress, who were mainly women, believed that these men could be helped to cope with their condition through a rehabilitation programme. For many years Combat Stress ran employment schemes to create work opportunities for veterans, and today the charity is just as dedicated to improving the lives of ex-servicemen and women all over the UK.
Prince Charles mentioned in his speech that he is Colonel and Colonel-in-Chief of many different regiments, making the speech at St James’s Palace even more personal. He commented, “I do try and encourage commanding officers to take this issue seriously, which fortunately more and more do, and so with the funds raised from these sorts of appeals, there has been a real step change in capability and expertise, and outcomes for many veterans are now excellent”.
The Prince concluded, “Those who have served their country do deserve the best treatment, and so, I can only say that your generous and loyal support makes and immense difference, thank you so much”.
The entire Royal Family are all linked to the military and Charles’s son Prince Harry also spoke of, and launched an event for wounded servicemen and women: The Invictus Games will take place from September 10th to 14th and is supported by Prince Harry’s and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Royal Foundation.
Photo Credit: Defence Images flic.kr/p/ePbRrP