“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, so sings Andy Williams every year. But for an isolated veteran, this couldn’t be further from reality.
For most of us the festive period is a time for friends, family, and jollity. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? Yet, for many, that idyll simply does not exist.
A pre-Covid survey suggested a third of people were too embarrassed to admit to being lonely at Christmas. Post-lockdown, and with a cost-of-living crisis showing little signs of abating, a similar survey today would be likely to show an even higher figure.
For an Armed Forces veteran, the absence of community and support with specialist needs means this risk of loneliness is particularly severe, with more than 80,000 veterans expected to spend this Christmas lonely*.
Last December, Armed Forces charity Help for Heroes saw a 77 per cent jump in requests for support compared with the previous year**. At a time when there’s constant pressure to be having fun, the isolation can be overwhelming. The silence can be deafening. That’s why what Help for Heroes does to support the Armed Forces community every day, is more important than ever.
But for many, small actions can mean the world; just a simple caring gesture can help to lift their mood.
That’s why Help for Heroes is asking the public to send a message of hope and support to a veteran, letting them know they’re not forgotten.
With specialist support carefully tailored to each individual, the Charity enables veterans and their families to lift themselves out of loneliness and isolation. It helps people improve their physical and mental health, and find friendship, housing, and employment. What’s more, it helps them find a purpose and a place in society again.
But there are still many veterans out there in need of help; veterans who risked their lives for our safety and security. Within the military, they had a support network that was like a family. Healthcare appointments and living arrangements were sorted for them. Not so in the civilian world.
Suddenly that support network has vanished. That can be scary and confusing, leaving veterans unsure where to turn for help at a time when they need it more than ever.
That’s why for veterans, it can be so tempting to cut themselves off. But that can make problems feel worse. At Christmas, loneliness is magnified. In a room full of people, they can often feel alone. The sense of isolation can be overwhelming.
So why not join Help for Heroes’ Christmas loneliness campaign and write a message of support to thank a veteran for their service and to show them they are not forgotten.
Your words could be a beacon of hope in the darkness. Visit: helpforheroes.celebrationpage.org/sendamessage to send your message and help lift the spirits of a veteran this Christmas.
*4% of veterans in Great Britain described themselves as always feeling lonely according to an online survey carried out by YouGov Plc between July 20 – 22, 2022. Total sample size 455 adults. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults who previously served in the military (aged 18+). This represents 83,000 from a population of 2.03m veterans in Great Britain.
**In December 2022 Help for Heroes received 255 requests for support, compared to 144 in December 2021.