Dorset veterans criticise army for lack of mental health support

Andy have set up a veterans' hub in the county to help others. Credit: ITV West Country

An army veteran from Dorset, who served three tours in Afghanistan, is due to speak to a Government select committee about how he and other soldiers feel let down by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) despite their loyal service.

Andy Price has criticised the army for the lack of support he received after returning from the conflicts and has set up a veterans' hub in the county to help others come to terms with life outside the military.

Andy believes his trauma began after losing a friend during an Afghanistan tour. He was tasked with cleaning his friend's weapon in the hopes it would help with his trauma, but it didn't.

One minute he's there and the next minute he's gone and I felt very guilty, it wasn't a serviceable weapon because he had been killed by a suicide bomber but I kind of thought that was normal and actually it wasn't. When you think back that was probably, arguably the start of all my problems.

Andy Price, army veteran

Despite keeping a few souvenirs from his time in the army, Andy says he rarely looks at them. His mind is often plagued with anxious and suicidal thoughts - thoughts he says the Army leaves an ill-equipped NHS to deal with.

Some of the guys and the girls from the Forces are going into GPs and they've got multiple traumas and they've been in some horrific situations and I've had doctors say to me, 'We don't know how to deal with this'"

Andy Price, army veteran
Darren served in Northern Ireland, Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Credit: ITV Wets Country

Andy runs the cafe offering support for veterans with his friend Darren.

While in Two Rifles, Darren served in Northern Ireland, Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan. After nearly ten years service, he was medically discharged.Darren says he believes the Army abandoned him.

When I left the Army and I didn't get any help, I became angry, I started to smash things, I was punching walls, I had so much anger.

Darren Bowden, army veteran
Andy and Darren say PTSD is a battle far too many veterans fight daily. Credit: ITV West Country

The MoD said it takes the wellbeing of former personnel seriously.

We take the mental wellbeing of our serving and former personnel extremely seriously, and we urge anyone struggling to come forward and access the care they deserve.

Government Spokesperson

The MoD also said the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments currently have an ongoing consultation on the delivery of support to ex-service personnel.

It'll also be launching the 'Defence Transition Service', a specialist support system "providing a holistic approach to support given to personnel as they prepare to leave service and beyond".

A specialist Veterans' Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund has also been established to distribute millions from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust. It will provide cash for projects that improve veterans’ wellbeing.

Although Andy's battles alongside the Army may be over, he says his battle with PTSD is one far too many veterans fight daily.

A list of helplines for more support and advice:

  • For serving personnel: 0800 232 4444 (operated by Combat Stress, funded by MOD)

  • For veterans and their families: The Veterans’ Gateway – 0808 802 1212

  • Samaritans' 24-hour free helpline: 116 123, www.samaritans.org

  • Clarity Charity: 01271 267474 or clarity.northdevon@yahoo.co.uk

  • Campaign Against Living Miserably: 0800 58 58 58