THE mother of a Gwent soldier who was the 200th serviceman to die after serving in Afghanistan described the Ministry of Defence as having "an attitude problem", when she gave evidence to an inquiry into support for armed forces veterans in Wales yesterday.
Hazel Hunt, from Abergavenny, gave evidence to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee in Cardiff Bay as part of its inquiry into the support available for armed forces veterans in Wales.
Mrs Hunt's son Private Richard Hunt died aged 21 in August 2009 a few days after he was injured in an explosion.
Mrs Hunt told the committee, chaired by Monmouth MP David Davies, how she set up the Richard Hunt Foundation in September 2009 after she found that too many service personnel and their families were "falling through the gaps". The charity has since raised £150,000.
Mrs Hunt said: "The Ministry of Defence (MoD) does have an attitude problem. They can be very obstructive when they want to be. I'm not surprised that the veterans don't want any contact with them. There is a definite lack of empathy with the veterans."
Mrs Hunt said she thought there needs to be a change of attitude in the MoD and that its "lack of communication" needs to be sorted out.
She also believed there needed to be partnership between the military and the NHS and that there should be a rehabilitation centre for veterans in Wales and suggested St Athan as an ideal site.
"I think there are enough veterans in Wales to warrant our own rehabilitation centre.
"Why should the lads who live here have to keep travelling miles for treatment? It has a knock on effect on their families," she said.
Mrs Hunt said she thought it was "appalling" that in the 21st century only 70 percent of those leaving the Armed Forces get some kind of advice and training for civilian life.
She said many ex-service men and women are often too proud to admit they need help and will hit rock bottom before they do so.
"You're asking these people to do their utmost which is what they do and quite often they're very young and have no experience of life outside the armed forces.
"Lads find it's a huge shock to them when they leave the Armed Forces."
She added: "They're getting no help whatsoever with housing. These are men and women that have given their utmost and yet they're treated worse than prisoners."
Mrs Hunt thanked the committee for listening adding: "I hope we can take it forward from here."