Funeral for PTSD-suffering veteran who took his own life after struggling to find support

A former soldier who took his own life following a long struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) has been honoured at his funeral.

Lance Corporal Dave Jukes lived with the disorder and acute depression having served for 25 years on tours in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Following his death three weeks ago, his widow told ITV News that Mr Jukes was one of a number of veterans let down by a lack of care for those suffering the mental scars from seeing active service.

Now a charity has claimed that the NHS is "not yet" equipped to help support the special needs of veterans.

At his funeral in Birmingham, representatives of the Staffordshire Regiment, who the former infantryman served, were present.

Some acted as pallbearers, while the ceremony itself was befitting of a man who had served his country for a quarter of a century.

Lance Corporal Dave Jukes died aged 49.

Family and friends used the service to renew their call for greater help for veterans suffering with mental health problems.

They believe that the mental injuries Mr Jukes suffered on the battlefield were no less real and no less deadly than those inflicted by any bullet or shell.

One eulogy delivered at the funeral service read: "When David sought our help, we were not there. When he needed us, we looked away.

"We created a killer to do our killing, to our orders. But we didn't want to deal with the aftermath."

The former soldier completed a number of tours over 25 years.

Friend Ben Wild said Mr Jukes tried seeking help many times but didn't find it.

"I think he probably went down every single avenue he could that was open to him," Mr Wild said.

"He just got turned away from everybody, from every charity, saying he was too far gone and for them to help him."

Last week, Mr Jukes's widow, Jo, said: "He survived Northern Ireland, Bosnia, two Iraqs, Afghanistan, but his service killed him in the end."

Mr Jukes's family invited ITV News to the funeral to show there is no shame or stigma attached to the manner of his death.

But they regret the reality that had his wounds been physical, the public he served would probably have found it easier to care for him.

The Staffordshire Regiment were present at the funeral.

Sue Freeth, Chief Executive of Combat Stress, said the risk of PTSD needs to be "taken more seriously".

She urged health services to introduce a more "joined-up approach", including specialist and one-to-one support.

"We need to make sure that the individual has special support, and that comes from people who have an understanding and appreciation of their needs as a veteran," Ms Freeth said.

Asked if she thought the NHS was capable of providing this support, Ms Freeth said: "I think there's a commitment to be but I don't think we're there yet."

What to do if you or someone you know needs help:

  • If you are in distress or need some support, the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day on 116 123 or through their website.

  • Veterans' mental health charity Combat Stress is available 24 hours a day on 0800 138 1619 for veterans and their families, 0800 323 444 for serving personnel and their families, via text on 07537 404719, or through their website.

  • Veterans' charity SSAFA is available on 0800 731 4880 or through their website.

  • The Government's Veterans' Gateway offers advice and help for veterans seeking support and can be contacted on 0800 802 1212 or through the website.

  • Mind offers a helpline on 0300 123 3393 from 9am to 6pm.