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Friday, 21 April, 2000, 21:03 GMT 22:03 UK
One soldier's descent into despair
British medic soldiers treat an injured comrade
Gulf War soldiers are among those suing the MoD
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.



Shaun Rusling eventually received counselling
He is one of hundreds of former soldiers coming to terms with the fact that they are suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Now 280 service personnel are suing the Ministry of Defence for what they say was poor preparation for battle and inadequate treatment afterwards.

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 [post-traumatic stress disorder] can get you.

Flashbacks

"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 lost my job, my wife, my home, my car. I cannot tell you how terrible it was.

Shaun Rusling
"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."

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."

Counselling

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 PTSD.

Mr Rusling now receives weekly counselling, has remarried and has a 17-month-old 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."

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13 Oct 99 | Medical notes
Post-traumatic stress disorder
17 Oct 99 | Wales
Actor moved by Weston Spirit
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