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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 August 2006, 05:52 GMT 06:52 UK
Troops 'need support for stress'
red caps
Royal Military Police officers, known as red caps, on parade
A soldier who took his own life in Iraq could have been saved if troops had been helped to cope with stress, his Portadown-born wife has said.

Ken Masters, a captain in the Royal Military Police, died in Basra last October.

His wife, Alison, said his death "could have been prevented" if he had received more support.

Mrs Masters said she wanted to discuss his case with the Ministry of Defence, but has not been given an appointment.

Captain Masters, 40, died just five days before he was due to leave Iraq.

He was the father of two girls who are now 14 and 12.

Alison Masters said her husband loved his job, but was under extreme pressure working in Iraq.

Map of Iraq
Captain Masters served in Basra

"We are asking far too much of our troops, they are working 24/7 without any help," she said.

"They are overstretched and attitudes need to be changed.

"Depression is an illness, but they really need to look at the stress and having somebody out there to look after them."

She said her husband's colleagues had noticed he was not well, but "nothing was done for him".

Concerns

"If someone had done something, or if there had been something in place, Ken would be here," she said.

Mrs Masters has requested a meeting with the Ministry of Defence to discuss her concerns, but no appointment has been fixed.

She said she is also disappointed that she has not heard from Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"He sent them out there so the least he could have done was to write to us to say he was sorry for what happened," she said.

"What does that say about our prime minister?"

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said it attached "a high priority" to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and continued to offer its condolences to Mrs Masters and her family.

"Diagnosis and treatment of mental illness is performed by fully trained and accredited mental health personnel. It is our policy that no stigma should be attached to this. Trained psychiatric staff are available to all our personnel in Iraq," it said.

"It would be inappropriate to discuss the details of the case before the board of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Captain Masters has concluded.

"However, the under secretary of state for defence will be responding shortly to Mrs Masters' recent letter."


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