1. ITV Report

War veteran from Sheffield calls for comrades to open up about PTSD trauma

Darren Parker served in Northern Ireland and Bosnia in the 1980s and 1990s. Credit: ITV News

An army veteran from Sheffield, who says he owes his life to an armed forces charity, says more awareness of mental health support among former soldiers is desperately needed.

Darren Parker, who served in Northern Ireland and then the Bosnian War during the 1990s, is speaking out after two of his former comrades took their own lives in our region last year.

The 46-year-old father-of-two attempted to end his life two years ago - prompting the Project Nova outreach initiative to step in and help turn his life around.

Figures obtained by ITV News show that nationally 80 current or former service personnel died due to suicide in 2018, while so far this year nine have done the same.

It's really sad isn't it. Two years ago I could have been one of these statistics and now I'm glad that I can hopefully give something back and if we can lower those figures for veterans thinking that their only way out is suicide through Project Nova and other projects then we're on the right track.

– Darren Parker, army veteran

Project Nova is a national scheme to which police refer veterans, who either end up in custody or are identified as vulnerable.

Teresa Hodgson, who covers North Lincolnshire, East and South Yorkshire for the organisation, helps around 50 people at a time rebuild their lives by advocating for them.

She does everything from help them to access health services to help them figure out how to repay debt and secure accommodation.

Ms Hodgson started working for Project Nova 18 months ago after her son developed symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder on his return from serving in Afghanistan.

You just want to help them and I went into over protective mother mode and I was going to go out there and get him him help and do everything and anything I could.

And I knew there were other families out there that didn't know what I knew. I knew who scared and isolated I felt so that's why I do what I do.

– Teresa Hodgson, Project Nova

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