Figures shows scale of Armed Forces mental health problems as 500 soldiers are forced to quit in one year. Hundreds end up facing homeslessness, jail or suicide
More than 10,000 troops have been discharged because of mental health issues in the past 20 years, we can reveal.
Another 500 were forced to quit last year after being diagnosed with PTSD, depression and other disorders.
The figures, from an official publication and Freedom of Information requests, show the number leaving due to mental issues has doubled since 2010. Hundreds who were discharged later took their own lives, while thousands became homeless or ended up in jail.
Former soldier Trevor Colt, who was awarded the Military Cross in Afghanistan, said: “There are thousands of veterans with mental health problems. When I was medically discharged, I lost everything – my home, my job and my salary. My compensation went on rent and my illness meant I couldn’t get a job.”
Veterans groups believe around 80 former personnel commit suicide every year while as many as 10,000 are homeless. Ex-soldiers also form the largest occupational group in prisons, with an estimated 4,000 locked up.
Troops diagnosed with mental health problems often face a medical discharge, although they can appeal. They may get around £6,000 in compensation, plus a medical pension.
Former Army Colour Sergeant Trevor 46, from Suffolk, who served with the Royal Irish Regiment, has been locked in a legal battle with the Ministry of Defence since being discharged in 2015.
He said: “I had a good career but it all imploded when I had a breakdown and was diagnosed with PTSD. I was given six weeks’ notice to vacate my Army quarters and received no help with therapy. I am just one of thousands of veterans who had to face life after being medically discharged.”
The MoD said: “We are committed to the mental health and wellbeing of our Armed Forces personnel and recognise that service life can cause stress.
“All Armed Forces personnel are supported by dedicated medical services. We work continuously to promote mental fitness and reduce stigma.”
‘My 7 year fight for fair compo’
A suicide bomber in Iraq left Cpl Jason Wilkes with shrapnel wounds and burns – but it was the haunting flashbacks that ended his career.
Dad Jason, 48, was injured in 2006 but not diagnosed with PTSD until 2012. The veteran, whose plea for help to Prince Harry was reported by the Sunday People, said he had to appear before 10 tribunals to assess compensation.
He added: “Since 2014 I have been fighting to get the correct compensation. There is a major difference in how the MoD treats soldiers who suffer mental health injury compared with a physical injury.”