ST HELENS South and Whiston MP Marie Rimmer spoke in Parliament about an army veteran who took his own life in a park earlier this year as she called for greater support for personnel before they are discharged.

Wesley McDonnell passed away aged 35 with his body found at Queens Park.

A platoon sergeant, Wesley had served in the military for nearly 20 years. This included in Cyprus, Germany, the Falkland Islands, Kenya, Canada, twice in Iraq and Afghanistan.

St Helens Star:

Marie Rimmer said armed forces personnel need mental health assessment and support before discharge.

At defence questions in the House of Commons, Ms Rimmer spoke about Wesley, who took his own life on the park which is close to her home.

Ms Rimmer reflected about Wesley that “sadly there are still many others out there like him.”

In the House of Commons, she said: "Wesley McDonnell, a 35-year-old veteran decided to take his own life in the park opposite my home.

"This brave man served and defended our nation for almost 20 years and sadly there are still many others like him.

"Could the minister please commit to further improve the spirit of the Armed Forces Covenant by tasking the MoJ to develop a health and wellbeing pathway, including assessment, diagnosis and commission of the mental health needs of our brave men and women prior to discharge so they have the treatment ready."

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In response, Minister for Defence Johnny Mercer MP said: "I thank my Honourable friend for her question, let me be absolutely clear on veteran suicide. Any veteran suicide is a tragedy for the individual, for their family but also for us as an institution and we want people to go away from their time in service enhanced by that and not damaged by it.

"We have got a job of work to do, I'd say we've made significant progress over the last few years. By January, for example, there will be mandatory mental health training delivered in every unit on an annual basis, that's never happened before.

"That, alongside a lot of our work with the Royal Foundation, we are changing this environment in which we find ourselves when it comes to delivering mental health care and resilience and fitness for our people.

"There is always more to do but working with partners I am determined we will get there."

St Helens Star:

Marie Rimmer

Following the exchange, Ms Rimmer said: “I will never forget waking up this year to see the flashing lights over the road. I was worried about what was happening, but when I learnt that Wesley had taken his own life I was devastated.

“There are no greater people in our country than our armed forces personnel. They are the brave men and women that put their own lives on the line to protect all of us.

"As a country, there is a duty to look after our veterans. But the care plan needs to be put in place before our men and women leave service. I hope the Government looks at ways to improve the situation. After all, our veterans looked after us, we should look after them.”

St Helens Star:

In a tribute to Wesley, a close friend said to the Star: "He was a strong man, he was fun and had a good character. He was very warm-hearted and would do anything for everyone.

"He was one in a million."