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Wife of veteran calls for more PTSD support for ex-soldiers

Wednesday 14th November 2018
The level of mental health help on offer for ex-soldiers has been criticised by the wife of a former serviceman who fought in Iraq.
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The wife of an army veteran who has suffered severe mental health problems has called for more help to be provided for former servicemen.

Speaking to ITV News, campaigner Kate England said her husband James's experience demonstrates how a lack of support can have a major negative impact. 

A soldier with the 1st Queen's Dragoon Guards, Mr England served in Bosnia before undertaking three tours of Iraq, during which time he lost several close friends and colleagues. 

He suffered severe depression when he returned home to his wife and four children in Witney and Mrs England said he clearly had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

She argued that he has had a lack of support, with a lack of continuity being one key issue; Mr England has never had a single person overseeing his care since he first came into contact with local mental health services in 2014. 

The campaigner said: "I would like to see a much stronger active case management for veterans and their families, so they understand what care is available. Not just so they are steered towards it, but they are steered through every step of the process as well."

Had her husband been given more consistent care, she believes, he would now be much further down the road to recovery. 

Charities set up to help servicemen like Combat Stress say their services are limited and they cannot handle all the mental health issues soldiers can return home with. 

Chief executive of the organisation Sue Freeth said: "Our programmes are not particularly well suited. They are a mixture of trauma-related CBT and group work." She added that these are of little use for those with anger management or alcohol problems - but noted the NHS appears to be lacking the services to bridge this gap. 

Last month, research from the Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry & Neuroscience at King's College London, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, showed that incidences of PTSD among veterans have risen. 

The rate of the condition rose from four per cent in a previous study between 2004 and 2006 to six per cent in 2014-16. The figure increased to 17 per cent for those who had been involved in fighting in Afghanistan.
 
Written by Angela Newbury

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