SOUTH of Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse has visited a Galashiels-based veterans service to hear how the organisation is supporting veterans and their families.

The Veterans First Point (V1P) Borders, which has been running for just over a year, has assisted 75 veterans.

The confidential NHS Service provides ex-forces personnel and families with services and help with issues they may be facing relating to their past service and transition from the Armed Forces.

Paul first heard from Dr Lesley Walker, Psychologist and V1P Borders Clinical Lead and herself a veteran, and Andy Smith, Lead Veteran and Peer Support Worker, who told him there are around 10,000 veterans living in the Borders, many of whom have complex needs but can often struggle to access mainstream services.

Paul said: “V1P is a crucial service for veterans in the Borders and I’m delighted that NHS Borders has now made it a fixture in the region, and this is largely down to the hard work and determination of Lesley and her team at V1P who have fought over the last few months for a long-term funding commitment from NHS Borders who I thank for providing surety to the team.

“The service has already saved lives there’s no two ways about it. I listened to four veterans with very different stories, but who were all in a similar position of not being able to access key services, such as psychological help, from a provision that really understood their needs.

“V1P was able to do this and all four have benefitted from being able to access help quickly and efficiently. It was humbling to hear from them and their families about the difficulties they have faced since leaving the Armed Forces.

“I really appreciate the time they gave to me and the fact they were so open about what they and their families have been through, both while serving and when they left the Forces.”

Paul presented three of the veterans with their volunteering badges. Matt Deeming, Ed Taylor and John Johnston have all received help from V1P and are now volunteering with the service in order to give something back.