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armedforcesThe Royal British Legion (RBL) conducted a UK Household Survey in 2014. The survey identified that 13% of the population were ex-armed forces peronnel. By applying this proportion, and the related makeup of their households, to Gateshead, it is estimated that there may be more than 23,600 people making up the ex-service community in Gateshead.[1] This includes almost 12,000 ex-servicemen and women, 8,800 adult dependents (aged 16+) and 2,900 child dependents (aged 0 to 15).

The 2012 Residents Survey of Gateshead people suggested there may be around 10,300 residents who have served in the armed forces or reserve armed forces.[2] Wards with the highest proportion of ex-service personnel were Birtley, Felling and Dunston and Teams.

Ex-Forces Personnel and FamiliesWhilst there is no definitive figure, the above estimates suggest that the ex-service community living in Gateshead is between 19,000 and 28,000 people, including between 10,000 and 14,000 people who have previously served in the armed forces and 9,000 to 14,000 dependents.

GP practices may record the veteran status of their patients, however as at December 2017, the total number recorded across Gateshead GPs was 6,329. This is well below the estimates outlined above.[3]

The RBL UK Household Survey report also projects the future population to 2030. Applying the UK proportions to Gateshead's veteran population suggests there may be around 6,900 ex-servicemen and women in 2030 in Gateshead.[1]

A summary of evidence of health outcomes of UK military ex-armed forces personnel found only limited data on mortality. Although the overall rate of suicide is no higher in ex-service personnel than in the UK general population, ex-service men 24 years of age or younger are at an increased risk relative to their general population counterparts. The report authors conclude that, while young men who leave the UK Armed Forces are at increased risk of suicide, it is not known whether this primarily reflects pre-service vulnerabilities or factors related to service experiences or discharge.[4]

Members of the ex-service community aged 18-64 are more likely (24%) than the general population of the same age (13%) to report a long-term illness that limits their activities.[1]

Around 8% of those who have served in the armed forces state they are permanently sick or disabled.[2] This equates to around 173 ex-servicemen and women.

Ex-service personnel are more likely than the general population to have back problems (14% compared to 7%), problems with legs and feet (15% to 7%), problems with arms (9% to 5%), heart problems (12% to 7%), diabetes (6% to 3%), difficulty hearing (6% to 2%), and difficulty seeing (5% to 1%).[1]

The prevalence of self-harm among military personnel is unknown.[4] The most frequent mental health problems encountered by UK armed forces personnel returning from deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan are alcohol misuse, depression and anxiety, rather than post-traumatic stress disorder.[5]

Reservists are at greater risk of alcohol misuse, depression and anxiety than regulars. Military personnel with mental health problems are more likely to leave over a given period than those without such problems and are at increased risk for adverse outcomes in post service life.[4]

alcoholAccording to the RBL UK Household Survey, only 1% of ex-service personnel self reported an alcohol related illness, and just a third of those attributed it to their military service.[1] Of particular note, ex-service personnel are less likely to drink at high or medium-risk levels than the England general adult population or Engilsh men of a similar age (using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test [AUDIT] tool and the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey for comparator data). However, these findings contrast with a previous study which found that the prevalence of hazardous drinking was higher than in the general population.[6]

A survey[7] carried out by four organisations in contact with ex-service personnel identified the following needs of 30 respondents:

  1. Debt/bankruptcy fees (36%)
  2. Mental health/substance use (30%)
  3. Furniture and/or white goods (23%)
  4. Housing (20%)
  5. Benefits (13%)
  6. Heating costs (6%)
  7. Equipment - stair lift (6%)
  8. Funeral costs (6%)
  9. Electronic powered vehicle (6%)

Working age ex-forces personnel are less likely to be employed than the general population of the same age (60% compared to 72%), more likely to be unemployed (8% compared to 5%), and more likely to be economically inactive (32% compared to 22%).[1]

housingThose who have served in the armed forces are significantly less likely to be satisfied with their home as a place to live, or the quality and choice of housing in their local area compared to the Gateshead average. They also report a number of difficulties in finding suitable housing, most notably a lack of social housing to rent.[2]


[1] A UK household survey of the ex-service community, Ashworth J et al, The Royal British Legion, 2014

[2] Gateshead Residents Survey, Gateshead Council, 2012

[3] Military Veterans Recorded on GP Practice Systems, NHS North of England Commissioning Support, Dec 2017

[4] Health and Social Outcomes and Health Service Experiences of UK Military Veterans, A summary of the evidence, Fear N, et al, Nov 2009

[5] What are the consequences of deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan on the mental health of the UK armed forces? A cohort study, Fear NT, Jones M, Murphy D et al, 375: 1783-97, Lancet, 2010

[6] Patterns of drinking in the UK Armed Forces, Fear NT, Iversen A, Meltzer H, Workman L, Hull L, Greenberg N, et al, 102: 1749-1759, Addiction, 2007

[7] Armed Forces Community Outreach Service Survey of RBL, Soldiers Sailors Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA), Military Mental Health NE, and Mental Health Concern, Mar - May 2012

Last modified on 8th May 2018

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