Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Tuesday, 21 July 2009 17:40 UK

Call for support group awareness

Trooper Sadler. Picture from Ministry of Defence
Jack Sadler was a trooper in the Honourable Artillery Company

A man whose son was killed in Afghanistan is calling for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to tell grieving relatives about a support group.

Ian Sadler, from Exmouth in Devon, lost his son Jack in a mine blast in 2007.

He said many parents of dead soldiers were not told of the existence of the Military Families Support Group (MFSG).

The MoD said a card containing the MFSG's details was to be included in information packs which would be given to bereaved relatives.

The cards were in production and would be added to the information packs "imminently", an MoD spokesman said.

Shared experiences

However, Mr Sadler, whose 21-year-old son was a trooper in the Honourable Artillery Company, said he believed newly-bereaved families were often too shocked to take in the actual contents of the pack.

He said the MoD should verbally flag up the existence and purpose of the MFSG so relatives would know where to go to contact people who have gone through similar experiences.

Mr Sadler claims it is not in the MoD's interests to flag up the MFSG's existence

"It would be nice if the MoD informed people that our group exists," Mr Sadler said.

"Although they have agreed to put our details in the information pack which is handed over to families just a few hours after they have been informed of their loved one's death, they are often not in a fit state to take on board the information contained in the pack.

"However, when Jack died I could really have done with knowing about the MFSG so I could be put in touch with people who had already experienced what I was going through and be forewarned what to expect.

"For many of us, attending our loved one's inquest is often the first experience we have of a coroner's court so speaking to others in my situation who had been there before would have been helpful.

Bereaved families are routinely provided with details of numerous organisations
MoD spokesman

"I was also never told by the MoD that I was entitled to read witness statements about my son's death - it was the MFSG which told me this.

"I feel the MoD wants to keep parents in the dark because they don't want to make a rod for their own back with bereaved relatives asking questions all the time - but we have a right to information and to be listened to when we have queries or concerns."

An MoD spokesman said: "Our visiting officers are proactive in making bereaved families aware of the support and services available to them, but clearly the requirement and desire for such support varies according to the family.

"Bereaved families are routinely provided with details of numerous organisations, including the Military Families Support Group and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association."

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