Care after Combat

November 10, 2019

Doctor's Log - Star Date 10112019

“Data and analysis are not just buzz words intended to mesmerise the reader”.

Care after Combat is part of a wider data ecosystem with veterans’ charities, funders, suppliers, Universities and other organisations. Together, there is the potential to support collaborative activities working towards more meaningful understanding. This best-practice approach allows decision makers to look externally for both innovation and solutions. It is a continuous process of measuring and learning which must be embedded throughout the veteran charity sector in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.

2019 has been challenging year with a dearth of funding dictating policy and staffing levels. The resulting enforced changes has led to a reduction in the number of Phoenix assignees but evidence -based outcomes continue to demonstrate the efficacy of this important peer mentoring programme.

Following several discussions with our colleagues at the Ministry of Justice Research Data Lab, our raw data, which had initially undergone analysis by the University of Portsmouth Department of Psychology, agreement was reached to subject the known reoffending rates to further scrutiny, this through a process of propensity matching. I am pleased to report that confirmed rates of re-offending are statistically significant, and when compared to the general prison population particularly noteworthy.

The feedback from Governors, Heads of Reducing reoffending and informed academics is extremely positive, all of whom acknowledge the intrinsic value of this cost -effective mentoring process. More importantly veterans and their families benefit in numerous ways which results in a marked improvement in quality of life and creates a platform on which to build a brighter future, free from the criminal justice system.

It is our intention to embark upon a longitudinal study in the coming New Year given our collected data base spans a period of five years in June 2020.

Jigsaw, a prison specific drug and alcoholic programme for a mixed group cohort was launched in early October and has been warmly received by an increasing number of Governors and prison managers……… this space.

Gary “Goose” Cryer, a cofounder of the Charity, was appointed life -long president earlier in the year and we welcomed Amanda Deakin to the post of Executive Officer in the early Autumn. Congratulations to our Chairman, Stephen Anderson OBE, Royal Navy on his recent promotion. Internal promotions have included Shelley to the role of full-time bookkeeper and liaison officer to our firm of Accountants.

Joiners and Leavers
We have said goodbye to several members of staff, one for family reasons, the other in order to pursue an academic career.

Our CEO, Jim Davidson OBE continues to work tirelessly on behalf of the Charity, this despite several ailments which would have “finished off” mere mortals. His respect and love for the military is everlasting, whilst his ability to engage with both veterans and non-veterans regardless of ethnicity, prisoner status or religious traits truly inspiring.

In conclusion
Many of us are unable to comprehend the experience of conflict and the onerous burden placed upon families and loved ones. We are, needless to say, a better country for what our veterans, serving personnel and their families sacrifice, but fail them if we do not recognise the continuing challenges following their service

For many reasons, most of which are not Service related, a proportion of veterans become involved in the criminal justice system. The financial cost is of course considerable but the overall burden for the family is immeasurable. Nevertheless, investing in these veterans is good for them and therefore good for us; they are after all part of the future. How much of their talent is wasted because we fail to acknowledge the wealth of both their individual and combined experiences.

As part of our ongoing work, I met a young man at HMP Winchester in August this year whose father had served onboard HMS Sheffield during the Falklands conflict in 1982, an event which has personal memories, when as a member of the Surgical Support Team we lifted survivors off “The Shiny Sheff” for transfer to HMS Hermes. He clearly idolised his Dad but went on to tell me he was never the same when he returned home. He died five years ago as a result of “drinking”. I was mindful of the generational legacy which is frequently hidden from view.

Working with veterans in prison is significantly challenging and not for the faint hearted. Mentors are required to undergo rigorous training prior to embarking upon their work. We are equally expected to produce evidence-based outcomes and our results are subject to rigorous scrutiny by the Ministry of Justice Research Department and the University of Portsmouth. Our reoffending rates are remarkably low and as a result the family, the economy, the NHS, Social Services and the Police are all beneficiaries.

Care after Combat has many friends and supporters who work tirelessly on our behalf, but there are of course, countless veterans’ charities, some founded over a century ago, who provide a range of services and support. We are therefore indebted and extremely appreciative for all donations, recognising the time and effort invested by all those individuals involved.

Our work is never done - and will continue long after all the troops come home. We should therefore never forget why veterans matter.

Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end. And so to boldly go where no charity has gone before...

Dr Nicholas Murdoch