The mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2009 has warned that post traumatic stress disorder could cause a “big wave” of suicides and crime if the government fails to act.
Hazel Hunt, mother of Richard Hunt who died aged 21 in Afghanistan in 2009, wants GPs to be trained to help ex-servicemen and women with mental health problems.
PTSD claims have increased dramatically in recent years, but the number of claims does not accurately reflect the number of cases. Recent statistics from the MoD highlighted that approximately 11,000 serving members of the military have been diagnosed with mental conditions, of which post traumatic stress disorder is a leading case. Since 2003 there have been 123 suspected or confirmed suicides of serving personnel, with the Defence Analytical Services and Advice admitting that the rate of PTSD cases had “significantly increased” between 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Previously, Mrs. Hunt had spoken to three senior military leaders on the services in place to help those who return from combat zones with post traumatic stress disorder. Each warned that such services were either inadequate or not in place to cope with the impending wave of PTSD cases. In the three years since those words, she believes the situation has not changed.
Speaking to the BBC website, Mrs. Hunt said: “These lads and lasses don’t get any help and GPs don’t recognise the symptoms of PTSD. There was one guy I spoke to who went to the GP for help and he ended up comforting her as she was in tears as she knew nothing about PTSD.”
She went on to warn that: “If they don’t get help or the treatment that they need, an awful lot of people are going to be committing suicide or committing crimes.”
PTSD affects every person in different ways and so diagnosis can often be problematic. It can develop a week after a soldier returns from combat or twelve years later, there is no time frame on its onset. The MoD has said that the mental health and wellbeing of all its servicemen and women is a of “top priority to the government”.
“Medical experts and clinicians working in our armed forces and across the NHS are committed to providing the best possible care to all those that have bravely served their country and to ensuring a smooth transition from the armed forces into the NHS,” said an MoD spokesperson.
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