'We've got to get them the help they need': Mum of soldier with PTSD makes an emotional plea for more veterans support

The mother of a Special Forces veteran who took his life last year after suffering PTSD has made an emotional plea to the government to give soldiers "the help that they need".

Danny Johnston served in Afghanistan as an infantryman and then in the Special Forces.

When he left the army, Mr Johnston suffered deep despair that was unapparent from the outside which drove him out to the woods last summer where he hanged himself.

His mother said: "He had no where to turn, I honestly think he had his back in a corner and had no one to turn to."

"He was so alone in his fight against his demons, he couldn't even talk to me and I was his mum," Viv Johnston added.

The former soldier is just one of the veterans out of an estimated 80 who killed themselves last year, according to an ITV News survey of veterans' groups.

Senior MPs have said a "shamefully small" amount of money is being spent on mental health care for Armed Forces' veterans and the system falls "far short" of what is needed.

MPs called for a "World-Class" treatment centre for mental health injuries to be built within 18 months and for a greater focus to be put on the mental health of Veterans' families.

The Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North said: "What we're spending now is 0.07% of the NHS budget on veterans care, £10 million, which is simply not enough."

Ruth Smeeth said: "We've got veterans in Northern Ireland who are waiting over 13 months for care, now how can that be right?"

She added: "These people sacrificed hugely to keep our country safe- in different theatres of war and just day-to-day experiences in the armed forces.

"The least we do is owe them and their families a debt of gratitude."

A Government spokesman said: "NHS England is committed to providing mental health care around the country so anyone in need of treatment can access help as close to home as possible. This includes bespoke services for veterans, which have been supported by an extra £10 million as part of the NHS’ long term plan.

"At the same time, the MOD has increased spending on mental health support for those serving in the armed forces to £22 million a year, and is working to tackle the stigma around asking for help throughout the military community.

"We welcome the report by the House of Commons Defence Committee and will respond in due course."

Read more about PTSD affecting veteran communities:

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.

  • Peer-to-peer communication app All Call Signs is accessible through its website

  • The Forgotten Veterans UK service can be accessed at 03003110239

  • 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.

  • Rock 2 Recovery - which helps veterans suffering from stress and their families - can be contacted on 01395 220072 Monday to Friday between 9am and 4pm, emailed at Support@rock2recovery.co.uk or through their website.

  • If you have lost a loved one in the military to suicide you can contact Jo Jukes who has created a private support group.