Disgrace Of War Vets Left To Wait On NHS

Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering flashbacks, trauma and panic attacks are being told to wait 18 months or longer for treatment on the National Health Service. Many of the ex-servicemen with posttraumatic stress should be given priority under government guidelines, but are being told that they must wait for treatment, in some cases for up to four years.

One charity, Combat Stress, says it is being overwhelmed with ex-servicemen who have been unable to get treatment on the NHS.

It says that the number suffering trauma has doubled in six months, as soldiers in Britain’s overstretched forces are sent back to combat zones without enough time to recuperate.
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They are being put on waiting lists or not even referred for treatment. Among the cases are:

  • Anthony Bradshaw, a 23-year-old discharged from the Pioneer Regiment in March 2004. Once a keen sportsman, he is now jobless and suffers flashbacks of children maimed in the conflict. He is still waiting for therapy;
  • Justin Smith was discharged from the Coldstream Guards last August with combat stress after doing two tours in Iraq and is registered as homeless. He was told by the NHS that he would have to pay some of the fees for the psychological help that he needed;
  • Scott Garthley is a Territorial Army corporal who was wounded in a Scud attack. He lost his £100,000-a-year banking job after the conflict and says the Ministry of Defence failed to help him to get treatment for combat stress.
  • Lance-Corporal James Piotrowski, 23, a promising recruit in the Irish Guards, suffered combat stress that his parents say was ignored. His father Mark, 44, sid: “He committed a serious firearms offence and deserved a custodial sentence, but it’s abysmal that he and others haven’t been helped.

“He didn’t have a problem with the war, but after what he saw — like walking around a corner and seeing a child’s foot in the road — it was difficult to cope when he got back. These soldiers deserve better and society should treat them urgently because they can be ticking timebombs.”