The MoD have been lying about PTSD since WWI when they murdered mentally ill soldiers on the front line - twenty of which were shot as a method of ensuring no other troops refused to advance into enemy gunfire.
They murdered an officer asa token so that the troops wouldn't rebel, feeling that only "other ranks" were shot.
The MOD some time later declared twenty one shot for cowardice, the truth, which emerged later, was that over a hundred were murdered. One soldier, who was three feet from his post, was shot for desertion. This doesn't include the numbers who were detailed as “lost in battle.”
By WWII, PTSD was called “feeble heart” and later “shell shock” and was considered a coward’s reaction to conflict. Victims were sent to the rear for a period of convalescence then returned to the front line. If they made it back to the UK alive, the MoD washed their hands of them and so do society.
By the mid-eighties, the government and the MoD were labelling Veterans with PTSD who had served in Northern Ireland and the Falklands, and earlier conflicts such as Aden and Palestine as "defective or unsuitable" stating that they should have been weeded out at the recruitment level.
This is hard to countenance when Veterans’ Mental health charities such as Combat Stress and Talking2Minds are predominantly attended by former SAS, SBS, Paras, Royal Marines and other specialist operators with ranks from Private to Major. Some served in every single conflict since 1969 and amongst them are distinguished battle leaders decorated to the highest order.
Today, PTSD is still viewed as a sign of weakness. Officially, the MoD is trying to combat this with a campaign entitled “Don’t bottle it up”. However, when the result of admitting that you have a mental problem is usually medical or admin discharge, it’s hardly surprising that few feel able to admit their condition, turning instead to alcohol or drugs as a form of self-medication.
For those who do seek help, they are usually diagnosed with PTSR (Post Traumatic Stress Response) which is classed as a normal reaction which the MoD will not pay compensation for. Those who do not spontaneously recover (or with the help of a small number of counselling sessions) are medically or admin discharged as suffering from PTSR not PTSD to avoid having to support them further. If alcoholism or drug use are identified, sufferers are either admin or dishonourably discharged.
The MOD states that 4% of the Veteran population are PTSD sufferers. In the US, official figures place it nearer 20% - 35% and climbing. The discrepancy is hard to understand given that British and American forces have operated side by side for the last twenty years.
Despite this deliberate attempt to skew the figures, Charities dealing with PTSD in the UK reported a 72% increase in referrals in 2010. 2012 saw a staggering 500% hike in referals.
The tragedy is that proven, cost-effective treatments are available. In fact, they are so successful that serving personnel with PTSD could be returned to full, active service should they so wished within a matter of weeks. And yet, the Government funders and the MOD are refusing to even look at these approaches. Why?
Because of their woeful refusal to admit the problem and consider the options, let alone put money behind them, hundreds of thousands of Veterans and serving personnel are needlessly suffering.
Many of them end up in prison. A disproportionate 10% of the prison populous is ex-military and a significant number have diagnosed mental health issues. Other effects are broken homes, domestic violence, drugs and alcohol abuse or suicides. The impact on the families and the social implications are far reaching and very serious. Already we have seen multiple incidents in UK involving attacks and murders from those suffering from PTSD.
And still, the policy makers refuse to act. This inability to see the facts, accept the responsibilities and make the right decision both in social, personal and financial terms beggars belief.
Perhaps we should be pleased that they no longer shoot suffers – although as a highly cost-effective option, perhaps it’s already under consideration.
HT/Bob Paxman TALKING2MINDS