Boris Johnson vows £5M help for veterans amid Afghanistan criticism

LONDON — Boris Johnson will offer an extra £5 million to help charities supporting veterans Monday as he faces another parliamentary grilling on the crisis in Afghanistan.

The prime minister will vow to “use every economic, political and diplomatic lever to protect our country from harm and help the Afghan people” in a House of Commons statement, Downing Street said.

And he will thank the 150,000 British servicemen and women for their service over the past two decades of conflict as he promises “no veteran’s request for help will go unanswered.”

The promise of extra help to veterans’ charities comes after criticism from Johnson’s former defense minister and ex-soldier Johnny Mercer, who served three tours of Afghanistan but dramatically left government earlier this year claiming it was “consistently failing” to support former soldiers properly.

Mercer warned in a special debate last month that ministers should prepare for a “bow wave” of mental health issues among veterans following the allied forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Tory former minister told the House of Commons: “The prime minister must not wriggle out of his commitments on this issue. The Office for Veterans Affairs is nothing like it was designed to be and he knows that.”

Downing Street said the funding would be made available to charities so they could increase capacity in mental health support, and make it easier for veterans to understand and access the support already available to them through the state and charities.

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