Help for troops suffering psychiatric problems from war

Reservists from the armed forces suffering from psychiatric problems after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be offered official medical help, the Government announced in a major policy shift yesterday.

The Ministry of Defence has been accused of "abandoning" the reservists once they returned from Iraq. Most have been forced to depend on the tightly stretched resources of the National Health Service in civilian hospitals, and many have complained of not receiving little or no treatment. At least 1,333 soldiers returning from tours of duty in Iraq have suffered from mental health problems, according to MoD figures.

Following extensive lobbying by veterans' organisations, the under secretary of state for defence, Tom Watson, said yesterday that any reservist who had returned from serving overseas after January 2003 would, after all, be eligible for mental health care.

The government announcement came following the deaths of seven British service personnel in the past 10 days. The latest casualties were Ptes Joseva Lewaicei, 25, and Adam Morris, 19, who were killed by a roadside bomb in Basra. The extension of medical cover follows reports published yesterday which showed that reservists experienced more psychological problems than regular troops after Iraq service.

According to two studies, by specialists from King's College London, 4 per cent of the forces returning from Iraq had experienced post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This figure rose to 6 per cent among reservists.

One of the reports said this may be down to factors such as "...families and employers not understanding, not supporting their role in the military, the military life they join ... Possibly in roles for which they feel untrained. Furthermore, reservists might be exposed to wider public questioning of the war on their return."

Although reservists received the same type of care as regulars while deployed, the study also found "...reservist families did not have the same welfare services as did the families of regulars."

Military analysts pointed out that reservists suffering from psychological traumas had frequently been exposed to far more ferocious action than anticipated. More British reservists were used in Iraq than any previous conflict, and were sent after the "official" warfighting phase was believed to be over, and peacekeeping duties had begun. Instead, the Iraqi insurgency, now recognised as the "real war", began to gain momentum as they arrived.

The proportion of British troops suffering post-conflict mental health problems is significantly lower than in the United States, where the numbers suffering psychological problems, according to varying studies, has been estimated at between 20 and 30 per cent.

The US forces have faced far more hostile action in Sunni areas, compared to the British- controlled Shia south. They also tend to be younger and more inexperienced, while their tours of duty are normally of a year's duration, rather than the standard six months for British forces.

The British studies also concluded that there was no such thing as "Iraq war syndrome" of the type that followed the 1991 Gulf war. Professor Simon Wessley, who led one of the King's College teams, said: "Is there an Iraq war syndrome? The answer is no, not yet." However, acknowledging that it may be too soon to make a conclusive judgement, he added: "It would be a brave person who says it is going to stay that way."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Principal Arboricultural Consultant

    £35000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Principal Arboricu...

    Trainee Digital Forensic Analyst

    £17000 - £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Trainee Digital Fo...

    Planning Manager (Training, Learning and Development) - London

    £35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glob...

    Asset Finance Solicitor

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - ASSET FINANCE - An outstanding...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment