[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 13 June, 2003, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
One soldier's descent into despair
Vaccines have been blamed for illness
In 1991, Shaun Rusling was sent to the Persian Gulf to serve as an army field medic treating horrifically wounded soldiers and civilians.

Despite escaping without a scratch from the conflict of a decade ago, today he counts himself among its casualties.

He is one of hundreds of former soldiers coming to terms with the fact that they are suffering illness linked to their time in the Gulf.

Mr Rusling, 41, who was a sergeant in the elite Parachute Regiment and based just inside the Saudi border in 1991, said: "No matter how strong you are, in the Paras or the SAS, it can get you.

I lost my job, my wife, my home, my car. I cannot tell you how terrible it was.
Shaun Rusling
"I was a very fit, very arrogant sergeant who thought it would never grip me. I was in denial but in the end I just spiralled into it."

The father-of-two said the first signs emerged after the war, back in England, when he became irritable and aggressive.

"I began to get severe sweats, nightmares and flashbacks. I was 'seeing' people with gunshot wounds to the head, people having limbs amputated, even a 13-year-old Iraqi girl injured in the fighting whom I had treated.

"I became non-functional, self-destroying and extremely violent to people around me.

"People tried to help but I was confused and angry, and I didn't know why. I just walked away. I shunned my family, my friends, I wouldn't listen to a soul."


Shaun Rusling
Shaun Rusling has won his fight
Mr Rusling said: "I was totally unreasonable. Everything I touched turned to lead. I lost my job, my wife, my home, my car. I cannot tell you how terrible it was."

He said the army's response was to brand him unfit for duty and discharge him into "civvy street".

It was an NHS doctor in his home town of Hull, East Yorkshire, who eventually diagnosed post traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Rusling now receives weekly counselling, has remarried and has a young daughter.

He is chairman of the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association, which helps others in the same position.

He said: "The MoD just send people into the community with their heads on fire. That's wrong."

MoD defends soldiers' treatment
21 Apr 00  |  UK News
Ex-soldiers sue over stress
21 Apr 00  |  UK News
Post-traumatic stress disorder
13 Oct 99  |  Medical notes
Actor moved by Weston Spirit
17 Oct 99  |  Wales
The battle over the Falklands
23 Dec 98  |  UK News

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific