'Sort out veteran's care needs' - Chepstow ex-soldier
7:10am Thursday 14th February 2013 in News
A WAR veteran from Chepstow who contemplated suicide after suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder says its time the Government “sorted out” better care for veterans.
Former Coldstream Guard Richard Brown has spoken out after the Welsh Affairs Committee, chaired by Monmouth MP David Davies, said public bodies need to do more to support veterans.
The committee highlighted issues such as housing prioritisation, and concerns about the charities that provide treatments for complex psychological issues which don’t meet guidelines set out by the medical watchdog the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
Mr Brown, 41, served in the Coldstream Guards for 16 years, eventually reaching the rank of Lance Corporal.
He served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland and in the Gulf War.
Since leaving the Army, Mr Brown has suffered with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and has criticised Ministry of Defence bureaucracy which he said meant he didn’t get the help he needed until it was nearly too late.
The father of four, says, only half-jokingly: “You only get to see the kind of people I see now if you’re going to top someone or look like you’re going to go to jail.
“I found myself sat on the Severn bridge with coppers all around me before I got proper help and there are a lot of people finding it hard.”
He highlighted the poor provision for veterans in Wales and across the UK.
“Just in Florida state in America, they have 36 drop-in centres for veterans whereas here, there are only two in the whole of the UK.
“It’s such short-term penny-pinching. If they looked at the bigger picture they could save money and be helping people sooner too. “The combat stress sessions we go to now cost £350 a day, I take three tablets a day at £7 a day.
“I’m not saying that it would work in every case, that every case would be the same, but long term it would save a lot of money and help people sooner.”
Mr Brown was critical of some services charities, which he said seemed to promise a lot but delivered little. He also said in his experience, veterans were not prioritised when it came to local authority housing lists.
He also felt things like gettingmedical records returned had compromised his care too, something the committee also highlighted.
“I had to put a freedom of information request in to get my own medical records back and even then when I did they were all redacted. It’s all well and good saying I was here and this happened to your doctor but they need to be able to see it in black and white to be able to help you because sometimes your mind plays tricks on you,” he said.
In fact that was Mr Brown’s feelings about veterans treatment on the whole. “We have heard lots of people saying great things, and veterans deserve this and that but at the end of the day we haven’t seen anything.
“My message would simply be ‘sort it out’.
Honour the military covenant and get people what they deserve.”
Hazel Hunt, the mother of the 200th serviceman to die serving in Afghanistan warned that if veterans’ issues are not addressed more former servicemen could commit suicide.