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'57% rise' in war veterans seeking mental health support

The number of Afghanistan veterans seeking mental health support has climbed according to new figures.

Some 358 ex-military personnel sought help from mental health charity Combat Stress last year, compared with 228 in 2012, meaning a 57% rise in cases.

Some 358 ex-military personnel sought help from mental health charity Combat Stress last year. Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Archive

The charity's chief executive, Commodore Andrew Cameron, warned that the numbers are likely to increase over the coming years and they face "a real challenge" in continuing treatment for those who need it.

He said: "We are planning for services at or above the current level for at least the next five years, and we do not expect to see demand for support tail-off in the near future."

"A small yet significant number of veterans who serve in the armed forces each year continue to relive the horrors they experienced on the front line. Day in, day out, they battle these hidden psychological wounds, often tearing families apart in the process," he said.

Commodore Cameron said one fifth of all veterans are likely to suffer from mental illness.

Coaker: Armed Forces 'should be proud' of Afghan role

Shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker said:

Our Armed Forces can be proud of the role they have played in helping Afghanistan transition to democracy and the contribution they have made to keeping people in Afghanistan and people here in Britain safe.

As well as the combat mission, the expert training given by the British military to the Afghan National Army and police has greatly increased the capacity of those security forces and that is hugely positive legacy to leave.

There are of course significant challenges that remain and we will continue to support the Afghan government and the people of Afghanistan to meet them.

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Sterga closure 'another step' in ending Afghan operations

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, who was in Afghanistan to mark the latest milestone in the drawdown of UK forces, spoke to soldiers from the 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 SCOTS) who had been living and working at Sterga.

The closure of our last base outside Camp Bastion is another important step towards ending combat operations in Afghanistan.

It is also an opportunity to reflect on the mission and the hard work and sacrifice of British Forces.

Their efforts have helped build a credible Afghan National Security Force and supported the emergence of a democratic Afghan state.

– Defence Secretary Philip Hammond

Britain closes last remaining forward base in Afghanistan

The last British forward base that is being used by UK troops has closed in Afghanistan, with Camp Bastion the only forward location where British soldiers are now based.

The Sterga Camp along with Bastion in Helmand is due to fully close at the end of the year.

A soldier walks through the gates at Sterga. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Most of the personnel based at Sterga were from the 4th Battalion 4 SCOTS with specialist capabilities provided by other units such as 5 Regiment Royal Artillery, 32 Regiment Royal Artillery, 3 Royal Horse Artillery and 14 Signals Regiment.

At its peak the base was home to 180 people although by its closure this had reduced to about 90 personnel.

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Hammond dismisses Army cuts criticism as 'nonsense'

The Defence Secretary has dismissed much of the criticism levelled against the Government on Army cuts as "nonsense".

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Philip Hammond said: "We still have the fourth largest defence budget in the world.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond on The Andrew Marr Show. Credit: BBC/The Andrew Marr Show

"I was in the Pentagon just this week past, I heard my US counterpart talk about Britain as a credible, capable and reliable ally and that's what we intend to remain.

"Of course we've had to make savings, of course we've had to make some very tough decisions, ... but we're looking to the future not the past."

Mr Hammond's comments followed General Sir Richard Shirreff's comments that the restructuring of the Army is "one hell of a risk" that will weaken the armed forces around the world.

Father: 'We may never know what happened at Deepcut'

The father of Private Cheryl James who died at Deepcut barracks, hopes his daughters death will be fully investigated if a new inquest takes place.

Des James says they may never know what happened to his daughter but her death must be investigated further.

Pte James was found dead after an apparent suicide in 1995. She was one of four soldiers who died at the barracks between 1995 and 2002.

The solicitor acting on behalf of the family, Emma Norton, says there is no guarantee that another inquest will take place.

Profile of Deepcut four

Pte James Collinson and Pte Cheryl James Credit: Press Association Images

Private James Collinson

Aged 17, from Perth, Scotland. Pte Collinson was found with a single gunshot wound through his chin in March 2002.

Private Cheryl James

Age 18, from Llangollen, north Wales. Pte James was found dead with a bullet through her forehead, in November 1995.

Pte Sean Benton and Pte Geoff Gray Credit: Press Association Images

Private Sean Benton

Aged 20, from Hastings in East Sussex. Pte Benton was found dead with five gunshot wounds while on guard in June 1995.

Private Geoff Gray

Aged 17, from Seaham in County Durham. Pte Gray was found dead with two gunshot wounds to his head while on guard duty in September 2001.

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