Ipswich Town hero Terry Butcher said families of veterans with mental ill health should have a "voice" when the next government is formed.

The former Rangers defender and England skipper has helped launch the 'Beyond the Uniform' campaign after becoming a patron for veteran-run social enterprise Combat2Coffee, which was founded by Ipswich's Nigel Seaman.

The campaign calls on government to go further in its support for veterans by creating a dedicated service for veterans’ families.

Mr Butcher and his family have experienced hardship themselves following the death of his son Christopher, who developed post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving the army.

The former footballer, speaking during Armed Forces Week, said: “Families become part of the military in many aspects.

Terry Butcher speaking with Nigel SeamanTerry Butcher speaking with Nigel Seaman (Image: Combat2Coffee)

"They have a military mindset and when their relation leaves the forces and is deeply troubled, it affects them all.

“There is no real support for them. There is some support for the veterans themselves, but for families in particular they are hit hard and have no one to turn to. Someone to speak to about what happens and how it will affect you.

“As a family you feel like you’ve been cast adrift. That you’re on your own. You’ve got to find your own lifejackets.”

While services are available for veterans, including the revered NHS OpCOURAGE service and Veterans’ Gateway, there are no dedicated government services designed purely for their families.

Mr Butcher said such support would have proven invaluable to his family after his son’s return from Afghanistan.

He added: “My son came out of the military and he really did struggle. From a mental health point of view there wasn’t any help out there for him.

“They are the people we want to reach, but equally their families as well. My family suffered enormously – we had to look after our son.

“The mental health pressures we felt are something we will never forget, and it’s something we want to help people with.

“Whatever government comes in, we want a voice. We want our families to have a voice.

“We’re not asking for the world. We’re asking for a little bit more attention and help to give the families much more of a lifeline to cling onto."