Today’s defence-related news includes coverage of the Army’s Ice Maidens Antarctica challenge.
The Mail on Sunday leads on the headline that five of 16 military mental health units have been closed. A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence is quoted, stating that additional mental health services have been added to nine sites, resulting in 20 sites across the country able to deal with mental health issues.
The Mail on Sunday also carries a follow on piece to their campaign for a 24 hour helpline for mental health.
An MOD spokesperson said:
We’ve looked very carefully at these proposals and our clinical advice is that a MOD-staffed helpline would only extend the time taken for the individual to access the care that they need in a crisis compared to current arrangements. Service personnel already have 24 hour access to robust and effective services they need in an emergency. We are committed to tackling the stigma of mental illness and have launched a new partnership with the Royal Foundation, set up by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, to improve training and education. The Government is also investing millions of pounds on mental health projects to ensure service personnel and veterans get the care and help they need and deserve.
The Sun reports that the Defence Secretary has demanded urgent action to find a home for SAS veteran Bob Curry. The article says that the Defence Secretary has insisted that the Council honour their commitments under the Armed Forces Covenant, quoting Mr Williamson’s letter which says that “every hero deserves a home. His case needs to be a high priority”.
Army’s Ice Maidens conquer Antarctica
There’s widespread positive coverage, including in the Sunday Telegraph, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Times, Sun on Sunday, Mail on Sunday, Independent, BBC (online) and Sky News (online), of the Army’s Ice Maiden team becoming the first all-female team to cross Antarctica using muscle power alone. Following the news yesterday, pictures of the team were distributed and broadcasters, including BBC News Channel and BBC Weekend News, covered the achievement, including an interview with team member Major Nat Taylor. Coverage this morning and online includes congratulations from the Defence Secretary and the team’s reactions to their achievement. Team leader Major Whetherall is quoted in several outlets saying that the journey has “had good times, bad times and great times for all concerned and each of them, I know, has made us better people”.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
I want to congratulate the heroic Ice Maidens on their formidable and trailblazing trek across Antarctica. They are an inspiration to us all and are role models to young people across the country. They truly demonstrate why the British Armed Forces are the best in the world, and show that with hard work, courage, and determination anything is possible. We are immensely proud of them and what they have achieved.