Twin city visit focuses on care of war veterans

A delegation of senior physicians from Aberdeen’s twin city of Gomel are this week visiting the city to share experiences of changing patterns in the care of war veterans.

Gomel visit June 2012 1The Belarusian party of four, from Gomel Veterans Hospital and Gomel Regional Council, will undertake a tour of Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow’s war veteran organisations from 26 June to 1 July.

The trip has been coordinated by the Aberdeen Gomel Trust which was established in the early 1990s to help resolve the medical, nutritional, social and spiritual problems experienced by the people of Gomel. The aim of the trip is to compare health practices in the care of war veterans in light of the needs of an aging population and the increasing emphasis on psychosocial consequences of warfare.

The tour builds on the relationships established during a visit from representatives of the Gomel Museum of Military Glory to Aberdeen in late 2010. Consequent discussions focused on the support that was available to veterans in the UK and Belarus, both for elderly veterans and those who have fought in more recent conflicts. Given that both cities are actively interested in the study and treatment of post traumatic stress disorder and the impact it has on veterans, their families and the community, the public health visit was conceived.

The delegation began their tour on Wednesday (27 June) at the Gordon Highlanders Museum and the Aboyne-based headquarters of Horseback UK, a charity which has been created to provide a safe and secure environment to aid those currently serving, or those who have served in the UK armed forces. This was followed on Thursday by visits to Edinburgh’s Lady Haig’s Poppy Museum and the Erskine Hospital Trust in Glasgow.

Gomel visit June 2012 2Today (Friday 29 June), the delegation will visit Robert Gordon University’s Faculty of Health and Social Care. They will meet with senior members of staff from throughout the Faculty, who lead in a number of disciplines relating to the rehabilitation of war veterans including physiotherapy and occupational therapy. They will also receive a presentation led by team members of the University’s Aberdeen Centre for Trauma Research.

The week will conclude with meetings with members of the North East Scotland Disabled Veterans Association (NESDVA), who will invite the delegation to take part in the Veteran’s Day Parade on Saturday (30 June) before their departure on Sunday.

The Robert Gordon University tour has been coordinated by Stephanie Morrison, lecturer of occupational therapy, who in 2009 was awarded a Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship to investigate programmes designed to enable war veterans to reintegrate back to civilian life following military service.

Commenting on the Gomel visit, Stephanie said: “It has been a wonderful opportunity  to welcome the Gomel delegation to the School of Health Sciences to share with them  the  expertise of   occupational therapy and physiotherapy  in  the rehabilitation of war veterans to improve  veterans  health  and  recovery  from injury.”

Cllr Yvonne Allan, Chair of the Aberdeen Gomel Trust said "We are delighted to welcome the Gomel delegation to Aberdeen for this important project. Co-operation in the field of public health is one of the founding principles of the Aberdeen Gomel Trust and we hope that the Gomel delegates and people they are meeting in Aberdeen and further afield will achieve a lot over the course of the visit."

High resolution images of the Gomel delegation visiting Robert Gordon University’s Faculty of Health and Welfare Research are available from the communications office on request.

Photo captions:
Top right
- The Gomel delegation with Stephanie Morrison at the Faculty of Health and Social Care
Bottom left
- The delegation visiting the University's Occupational Therapy homecare setting room

Notes to editor

The Gomel delegate party:

  • Aleh Ivantsou, head physician of Gomel Regional Hospital for Disabled and Participants in the Great Patriotic War
  • Vitaly Fiodarau, head physician of Gomel Regional Hospital for Disabled and Participants in the Great Patriotic War
  • Pavel Zhdanovich, director of Gomel Museum, Gomel Regional Council
  • Natassia Lapitskaya, Interpreter

Stephanie Morrison’s Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship allowed her to carry out a study tour which included the National Treatment Centre for PTSD in Vermont, USA and Veterans Affairs Canada in Nova Scotia.

Andrew Youngson
Communications Officer | Faculty of Health and Social Care

Robert Gordon University
AB10 1FR
Tel: 01224 262389