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Last Updated: Friday, 1 October, 2004, 19:40 GMT 20:40 UK
Family's plea after soldier's suicide
Gary Boswell
Gary Boswell was taking anti-depressants after serving in Iraq
The parents of a soldier who killed himself while on leave from Iraq have called for more support for servicemen returning from duty.

Private Gary Boswell, 20, from Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, was found hanging in a playground in July.

John and Sarah Boswell said army personnel should be offered counselling when they return from active service.

An MoD spokesman said there were mechanisms within the armed forces which gave "support" to soldiers.

Mr Boswell joined the Royal Welch Fusiliers two and a half years ago.

All young soldiers in Iraq should have counselling so they can speak more freely about it
Sarah Boswell

He had been on a mechanics course at Pembrokeshire College but, seeing the financial problems faced by his family because his father was out of work, he abandoned that course and joined up.

At first he was trained in Britain, then Germany and for a time in Canada but for the last six months he had been serving in Basra in southern Iraq.

Mr and Mrs Boswell, who have three daughters, said their son had suffered depression on returning home but had never spoken of his experiences.

They said he had been on anti-depressants and had received counselling but that they still had no idea what drove him to take his life, but feel that it may have been because he felt unable to talk about Iraq.

Sarah Boswell
Sarah Boswell does not know what counselling the army gave her son

Mrs Boswell said: "I have to say, he did not get counselling from the army, not that we're aware of, unless he had it before he came home - this is something we don't really know much about.

"I do believe soldiers, particularly young ones like my son, should get counselling as a matter of course when they return to Britain on leave.

"We cannot know what they see and experience in Iraq and we never suspected how deeply he had been touched."

She added: "All young soldiers in Iraq should have counselling so they can speak more freely about it.

"I think they are not able to speak about things, there are probably a lot of young men out there now who are feeling like Gary did."

Suicide verdict

An inquest in Milford Haven last week recorded a verdict of suicide .

A MoD said: "We realise Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a very serious condition and we have robust systems in place to deal with mental health conditions.

"Prior to deployment all UK service personnel are fully briefed regarding all operational matters.

"Whilst in the theatre, they have access to a range of services which includes access to medical staff and welfare officers.

"They can speak to psychiatric staff, people in their unit and there are also chaplains."

A spokeswoman added that all service personnel returning from Iraq spend one week among colleagues in the UK where they are scrutinised for signs of PTSD.

She said that family members are given leaflets on how to spot signs of PTSD and that there are also post-deployment briefings on how to deal with friends and family.




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