Health checks give veterans peace of mind

East Kent Mind organised a day of health checks for veterans in Thanet and Canterbury districts.

Staged at the Veterans’ Association premises in Birchington in collaboration with One You Kent, the 14 ex-military booked in for the 45min sessions had a range of health screenings including height, weight and blood pressure as wellbeing and lifestyle questions.

Father and son veterans Mark and Zack O’Brien were two of the ex-military attending the sessions.

Zack said he welcomed the chance to get his current state of health assessed, meet other veterans on the day, and spend a bit of time with his father Mark.

Zack O’Brien has his MOT health check

Zack said: “I’ve always wanted to know about the health side of life since leaving the forces. When you are in the Army you can just pop to the Med Centre, but on Civvy Street it’s not so easy. Poor health doesn’t just pick on older people – it affects everyone, so if you can get issues checked out early then you should go for it.”

Mark said: “I heard about having a health MOT, but it is hard to get these through GP practices. Doing it through East Kent Mind felt a bit more relaxed for me because it had a link to the veteran community so I knew I’d get to see like-minded people – people that might have an understanding of my background – and that the atmosphere would not be judgemental.

“I know things are changing, but so many still have the mindset that you don’t show your weakness, you don’t share your health problems, you get a grip and man-up. But once you leave the Forces you are not as active as you once were. We are not as young as we once were. Doesn’t matter if you are 21, 25 or 45 – if you are still trying to live the same lifestyle – drinking the same amount, eating the same amount – it all has an effect on your body as well as your mental state. So these health checks are something every veteran should take up.

“Coming here today I’ve found other things and avenues that I didn’t know about – it shows we are not alone.”

Karen Brinkman, East Kent Mind’s Armed Forces Connector, said: “If veterans want to get involved with future activities or sign-posted to support, contact me by visiting the webpage”