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Last Updated: Monday, 1 August 2005, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Tell us your story

I was in the Army for 10 years, Royal Signals.

PTSD is not the root issue. A significant percentage of the general public would have difficulty dealing with a great many stressful situations in "real life".

The root issue is the bloody-minded attitude of the Army, particularly senior officers who simply don't care. My last commanding officer indirectly killed two of my friends during training exercises, one thorough excessive heat and one through excessive cold. He said, "I'm allowed a certain amount" in reference to the deaths.

The toughening process all soldiers go through, not so much in these mollycoddled days, but in the early days it was hard. I've been hit with a broomstick, beaten up - for real - several times, by people who also couldn't cope, who needed some way to transfer their stress.

I left the armed forces like a programmed drone, because their brainwashing goes so deep, it is difficult to unpick because it's actually your personality that has changed rather than some superficial conditioned response issue, which is quite a different story.

I go through life, very aggressive, and defensive and very assertive. On a psychological level, this triggers many "want to be alpha males" in society to constantly challenge me, which only makes it worse as I don't take anything from anybody. Very often I feel like I'm being driven by a different person, and I (the real me) is just sitting back and watching what this other person is doing.

I'm far from stupid, my IQ is 130 and I currently earn 93K a year. I'm doing OK, but the "other person" and the trauma they carry won't leave me alone.

I was serving in Belfast when the troops were blown up at Warren Point. It was my task alone to identify all of the bodies, most of them in 30 or so plastic bags. I started with the easy ones then the gruesome task of trying to put together the remaining 15 missing soldiers. During my exploration I picked up what I thought was a liver, but it moved. After I came round on the floor the ambulance man told me it was a jellyfish. It took me a week and at the end I received no counselling, being told that was my job, what did I expect.

Two years later I started to have bad thoughts. I believed that my men were plotting against me, that my wife was having an affair, that the whole army hated me. I was to make a number of suicide attempts which culminated in me being admitted to an army hospital. I was put on my bed and ignored for three days. Then the doctor called for me and told me to pull myself together, I was a senior rank. I told him that if he showed me where the strings were to pull I would. I was bundled into a car and returned to my unit. I made another suicide bid and was admitted over night in the local hospital. On return to my unit I was placed under arrest to be charged with rendering myself unfit for duty i.e. suicide bid.

Days later I was told to get packed as I was being 'casevaced' to the hospital. I was diagnosed as having manic depression and after six months there I was again informed that I was to stand trial for the suicide bids, and when found guilty I would be dishonourably discharged with no pension.

My wife wrote to everyone she could think of including the Queen Mother who was the Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment. Finally a solicitor friend pointed out the stupidity of the situation and was just the news story that newspapers and TV look for. They finally agreed to discharge me on medical grounds with full pension. It was to be a further five years, by which time I had changed jobs twice and my wife and children left me. They could not cope with the behaviour swings and long bouts sadness. I stopped work in 1994 having suffered a small stroke, but that was just an excuse to withdraw from life. I received counselling for my depression but nothing for my PTSD.

I was medically discharged from the Military two years ago with PTSD. I receive a full pension and a war pension. I have served three and a half years in Northern Ireland then Bosnia, Macedonia, Serbia, First Gulf War.

My treatment from the Military was: get rid. Then the NHS does not have the funds or services to treat PTSD. I have had problems with alcohol and the Police since I have left the Military. My parents have been my saving grace, without them, I might not be here.

"We" need to be heard and Panorama was excellent.

I did not serve in any conflict but my father did, and both my brothers and I have been adversely affected by his experiences. My father was six and a half years in the Middle East during WW2 and he was at Alamein. When he died aged 67 in January 1987 he was talking about the flies in the desert on his death bed.

My brothers and I grew up in fear. My father had staring eyes and treated us like little soldiers. We had to be always quiet and show no emotion. He did not speak to us except to discipline us. I was taught to work from being a toddler. we were not allowed to have friends in the house, and we had to sit up straight and silent in the home, which was a room and kitchen tenement without a bathroom. My father was a good man who did not drink and always worked. He had working class pride. He would not let us wear second hand clothing or shoes and when he was ill or on strike, he would not ask for national assistance. He saved all year to take us for two weeks to the coast, and I never wanted to go home.

My mother told me that as a young bride, she wakened frequently to find my father pacing the kitchen floor. He did not want to sleep because of the flashbacks. He would not speak to us children of his experiences, except to say the Germans put salt in the water. He suffered stomach problems all of his life and died of bowel cancer soon after retirement. Both my brothers have had problems. One had a complete breakdown and saw a psychiatrist for a long time. The other opted out of society. I just want to point out that 60 years after the end of WW2 there are adults who were not alive then who have suffered and still are.

I still have recurrent nightmares about living at home with my parents. I understand all that has happened, and I am keen that we as a society understand the full possible consequences of post traumatic stress disorder, which are still with my family 60 years on.

I am still serving in the Royal Engineers and have recently been treated by the mental health team for what the mo diagnosed as PTSD. I was on the same tour of Bosnia as Capt Ryan, based in Vitez with the 1st battalion Cheshire battle group. I have since deployed to Bosnia on four subsequent tours and also on Operation Telic in Iraq, as part of the 7th armoured brigade in February 2003.

Since returning from Iraq I have suffered nightmares, insomnia, massive swings in mood and general ill health, although I put this down to a shoulder operation that I had undergone. The surgeons told me that these were all common after-effects of anaesthetic. My problem did not arise from the treatment I received from the medical services but rather from the reactions of my immediate superiors; as I was still working and "producing the goods" I was seen to be coping with it. If coping with it can be described as regularly breaking down in tears for no apparent reason sometimes in front of senior officers and soldiers whom I hold the utmost respect for.

I contemplated suicide on a number of occasions, even going to the trouble of lining up the pills on my kitchen table whilst my wife was away for a week. I also contemplated driving my car into tree. My troop staff sergeant's reaction to the doctor's diagnosis was to laugh. My troop commander's reaction was to tell me that she could sense something was wrong but thought I would get over it.

The problem in the army does not lie with the medical service it lies with the chain of command. Unless you are running around naked shouting wibble or attempting suicide regularly then you are seen to be perfectly sane and normal. This drove me to despair on many occasion. I felt my only option was to leave the army, which would have been cutting off my nose to spite my face due to my length of service and my pension options. In short, the army deem me to be treated as I have stopped going to the mental health team and I am due to be posted to a new job, but the nightmares haven't stopped just calmed down a bit.

Thanks for putting on Air the plight of ex-service personal who have PTSD. I was in the army and have suffered from PTSD for over 30 years. Violence, alcoholism, drug addiction and many admission into Mental hospitals have been my life since leaving the army.

After I left the army I saw psychiatrist who always said the same things "Surely the army must have prepared you for that sort of thing", "Are you here for a bed as you are homeless", "Don't tell me any more I am going to be sick", "Why haven't you killed yourself", "I cant believe a big strong man like you can have such a problem".

My symptoms are: the fear of killing people, the fear of harming people, hyper-vigilance, guilt, aggression, panic attacks. I get very moody when it comes to the anniversaries of incidents I was involved with. I use to carry a gun, I had hand grenades, black moods, agoraphobia, obsessive thoughts, intrusive thoughts. The list is endless.

What you did not mention in your programme was "War Pension status": You only get help from Combat stress if you are a war pensioner.

To get so-called "top of the waiting list" status you have to be a war pensioner. But the process can take years, by which time most applicants give up. They also get very angry when the war pensions have them interviewed by a psychiatrist to be assessed and they can not see a psychiatrist on the NHS.

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