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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 11:25 GMT
Gulf veterans' angry plea to MoD
David McGough
Cameras filmed David McGough as he was sacked from the Army
Soldiers on sick leave after serving in Iraq have told a BBC programme of their anger at not receiving proper medical or financial support from the Army.

Lance Corporal David McGough, 22, was discharged without a pension when military doctors contested his claims of post traumatic stress, despite the fact he twice attempted suicide and scrubbed his body with bleach.

Paratrooper Damien Mason, 20, whose service was cut short by severe head injuries which left him epileptic, also says he has had insufficient help.

Another soldier, who asked not to be named, told BBC ONE's Real Story that he was funding specialist care for his burns himself, while another serviceman with gun shot wounds said the MoD had been apathetic towards his case.

Obsessive behaviour

David McGough joined the army aged 17 and went to serve in Basra as a medic with the Queens Lancashire Regiment.

"Everyday was treacherous," he told Real Story. "We were constantly treating Iraqis, civilians and soldiers who had been shot or burnt or blown up."

When back on leave in his hometown of Preston, he began to suffer depression, insomnia and obsessive compulsive disorder.

A retired army doctor at the medical board said to me: 'You're bound to find that you have these problems because that's what you want to find out about yourself'
David McGough
"I actually went in the shower and bleached my whole body, scrubbed it until I started bleeding.

"I'd had such a bad week and I just felt contaminated."

David says his sister twice stopped him from killing himself, once when he had knife to his throat and again when he put a gun to his head.

Like countless other Iraq veterans, he believes his problems are partly a side affect of the vaccines and tablets given to him by the British military to bolster the immune system against a chemical attack.

He was administratively discharged from the Army after military doctors failed to diagnose him with any disorder that would prevent him from doing his job.

"A retired army doctor at the medical board said to me, 'You're bound to find that you have these problems because that's what you want to find out about yourself.'

I don't trust the MoD now
Damien Mason
"And I said: 'On the other side, you don't want to find anything.' "

Other soldiers have been seeking help for the physical damage they suffered in Iraq.

Yorkshire paratrooper Damien Mason, 20, needed brain surgery in a Kuwaiti hospital after his helicopter came under fire while helping soldiers on the ground in Al Majar Al-Kabir.

Currently on sick leave in Flixton, near Scarborough, Damien is now an epileptic but has had just one visit from an army welfare officer.

If I'd known more then I could have helped him more
Donna Mahoney
His father has had to give up work to look after him and has arranged most of his son's hospital visits himself.

"I don't trust the MoD now," says Damien, "I went to war and did my job. I received an injury, came back and they have left me to my own devices."

The programme also hears from a widow whose husband committed suicide aged 44, after returning from five months in the Gulf with the territorial army.

Donna Mahoney weeps as she recalls finding her husband, Peter, slumped dead in his car in the garage of their home in Botcherby, on the outskirts of Carlisle

Peter Mahoney with his youngest daughter
Peter Mahoney was a devoted father to his four children
"He put his uniform on for the last time, shaved all his hair off. He got up early and it was just like he was going back to Iraq.

"But he'd turned the engine off after filling the car with exhaust fumes and he just sat and went to sleep."

Donna, who has been left to bring up the couple's four children, says families of soldiers should be sent information about post traumatic stress disorder.

"If I'd known more then I could have helped him more."

'Best medical care'

The MoD said it would be inappropriate for them to comment on Peter Mahoney's because of the ongoing coroner's inquest. But they added that reservists were given an information pack to pass to their families which includes material about post traumatic stress disorder.

Responding to David McGough's case, they said that they rarely medically discharge troops because of psychological problems, although all personnel have the right to appeal.

The MoD also told Real Story that all service personnel who become ill or injured received the best medical care, adding that Damien Mason and his family have had the full support of the Army.

Real Story: BBC One, Monday, 29 November 2004, 1930 GMT and streamed on the Real Story website.

Q&A: Gulf War illness
17 Nov 04 |  Health

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