Protest to take place against the closure of Combat Stress admission centre in Newport
About 30 jobs are at risk at at the admission center for veterans which is struggling to cover the cost of its services.
The peaceful protest will take place at Combat Stress, Audley Court, Newport, Shropshire, on Friday 13th October at 11am, Veterans are urged to attend along with supporting members of the public.
The job losses are part of a five-year restructuring plan which, the charity said, would “offer greater flexibility and accessibility to treatment so veterans can be supported more quickly”.
Documents filed with the Charity Commission showed that Combat Stress had a deficit of £3.6m in the financial year ending March 31, 2016, generating £13m and spending £16.6m.
Wrekin Conservative MP Mark Pritchard has spoken of his concern over the risk of losing services at Combat Stress. Mr Pritchard said he hoped the board of the charity would reconsider their proposals – and listen to the concern of staff and clients at Audley Court.
"Combat Stress do a great job in caring for our armed forces veterans – they are a testament to all mental health professionals,"
"Post traumatic stress and post traumatic stress disorder can be a life changing and debilitating condition, but with the right treatment and support neither have to be permanent or irrevocable."
"That is why the early intervention and ongoing support of charities like Combat Stress is so important. The staff at Audley Court are a vital part of that care provision for veterans" he said.
Pete Neale is a veteran who served in Northern Ireland and Bosnia and is helping to lead the fight against the reduction of services at Audley Court.
"Combat Stress gave me my life back. If you're sat in the corner crying, you don't feel ashamed. We aren't just what the army made us – these killing machines. If I hadn't gone there last November, I'd be dead by now."
Father-of-six Pete, 42, who went through the six-week residential programme aimed at teaching coping methods and depression management, said the outpatient treatment suggested couldn't replace the longer team options.
"Combat Stress is important because it's our lifeline," he said. "It's our safe place, when I started, they asked me what I wanted from it. I said if they can give me 10 per cent of my life back, I'd be happy. I've probably got 60 per cent of my life back now. My kids have got their dad back. I still have my down days, but they're few and far apart. I never get suicidal thoughts anymore. It's all down to Combat Stress.
"I'm going to fight all the way to try and save it. I'll take this to my last breath. If I haven't got Audley Court I've got nothing." he added.
The news comes just days after veterans criticised the charity for spending an alleged £45,000 on redesigning its logo – money they said would have been better spent elsewhere.
More than 360 people have joined the Save Audley Court Combat Stress Facebook group since it was started last week, many of them veterans who have experienced the help on offer first hand.