Big Issue Vendor

Virtual reality experience fights the invisible enemy of veterans

Veterans' charity SSFA hopes to use immersive tech to garner public support to tackle growing feelings of loneliness among ex-servicemen and woman

Armed forces charity SSAFA has launched a new virtual reality experience to highlight the rise and fall of service men and women after their military career ends.

The experience juxtaposes the comradeship of the military with the struggle of isolation after the transition back to civilian life. The switch presents difficulties for many veterans including relationship breakdown, depression, drug and alcohol dependency and lack of suitable housing.

It is hoped that it will be able to to garner public support for the charity’s campaign to fight isolation in veterans.

Research conducted by YouGov on behalf of the charity found that 41 per cent of British armed forces veterans felt lonely or isolated since leaving the military with over a quarter (27 per cent) admitting to having suicidal thoughts after finishing service. They cited losing touch with friends in the forces, physical and mental health issues and struggling to relate to anyone in civilian life as the cause of their feelings of isolation.

Another 27 per cent of the 2,000 working-age veterans surveyed felt they would benefit from meeting someone regularly from a military background to talk about their experiences, pointing to a growing need for increased help in place for military personnel after finishing service.

Over a quarter of armed forces veterans admitted to having suicidal thoughts

Justine Baynes, Director of Marketing and Communications at SSAFA, said: “For many, a veteran is an older man marching on Remembrance Day, but we are seeing an increase in the number of younger veterans coming forward with far more complex issues.

“We wanted to make people aware of the challenges faced by service men and women when they leave the forces and how hard it is to adjust. After serving in the armed forces, the realities of civilian life can be a very daunting experience.


“SSAFA offers support to those leaving the armed forces that is personalised to their needs, through our network of trained case workers.  This is a lifeline for many who have served our nation and we’re encouraging the public to join our fight by making a donation to support our work.”

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