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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 20:28 GMT
Prince's plea for service veterans
Homeless person
Between a quarter and a fifth of rough sleepers are ex-services
The Prince of Wales has called for more help to be made available for ex-service personnel after they leave the armed forces.

Prince Charles met former soldiers, bomb disposal experts and parachutists at a centre in east London on Thursday.

He was told that some end up on the streets after being discharged or suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after their combat experience.

At Crisis Skylight, the Prince of Wales met ex-service people involved in Project Compass, which helps homeless ex-service people back into jobs, and sat in on a confidence building session at the centre.

He heard how former bomb disposal officer Neil Marshall, 32, who served in Bosnia, suffered nightmares and flashbacks.

No ex-servicemen should be homeless - we owe them a great deal more than that
The Prince of Wales
"I thought I was back there and I went on the rampage. I had to be sectioned," Mr Marshall said.

"Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is kept quiet in the army, they don't like to talk about it.

"If I had been told about it I could have recognised its symptoms."

The prince urged more companies to become involved in supporting schemes to help former members of the armed forces.

"No-one should ever lose sight of the fact that these people once voluntarily offered to serve our country to protect the freedom which we so often take for granted," he said.

"No ex-servicemen should be homeless. We owe them a great deal more than that."

The Skylight Centre scheme helps former service personnel enter the Project Compass Back to Work programme.

It is based on an idea thought up by the prince and the Ex-Services Action Group and sponsored by defence companies such as BAE Systems.

Project Compass is run by Business Action on Homelessness, part of the organisation Business in the Community, of which the Prince is president.




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