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Combat Stress/PTSD


War Hero
Very thought provoking Seaweed. Should be compulsory reading for all our parlimentarians, civil servants, and NHS administrators.

Happy New Year to you.



Firstly any suicide is tragic, but what’s more tragic is the military culture that discourages young people from seeking help or support – for fear of seeming weak. How many more kids have to die like this before the grass-roots mainstream military is ready to accept the culture-change it needs? We in the Defence Mental Health Services stand ready to help, but we can do nothing until a problem is brought to our attention. It really is down to commanders to grip this – they are the ones who should know their people.

Now to the good doctor...

The second point is that whilst there may (I'll check) only be 13 UNIFORMED psychiatrists working for MoD, there are quite a few more civilian psychiatrists and when I get back to the office I’ll tot ‘em up if anyone’s interested.

Thirdly, if the smug Dr Pemberton had spent a bit longer in psych outpatients – and maybe even paid attention – he would have noted that to all intents and purposes community mental health is a NURSE-LED service. Again, specific numbers will have to wait, but we have well over 60 specialist psychiatric nurses – in uniform across all three Services – and most trained in trauma-focused CBT, EMDR and other client-specific (that’s you guys) therapies designed to work specifically with psychological trauma. A standard community mental health service we are not. My current unit has 2 psychiatrists, a psychologist, a mental health social worker and 9 community mental health nurses. We cover a tri-Service population of around 24,000 personnel and all bar 1 (the new girl – give her chance!) of our clinical staff are specially trained in dealing with psychological trauma.

I’m afraid to say from my own experience of 2 of the 3 Services that the very existence of specialist mental health services within the military is not widely known about. I know that RAF officers get a 90 minute presentation on Intermediate Command and Staff Course (Air), I have no idea whether ICSC(Maritime) get any input but I also note that the Army apparently have no interest in delivering such a presentation to the guys and gals on ICSC(Land). Go figure. You either take this issue seriously or you don’t.


War Hero
Book Reviewer
OK, but this answer doesn't recognise the problems related by others on this site when AFTER leaving the Services they are cast off onto the NHS, where aparently neither most GPs nor counsellors seem to understand the problem at all. Indeed it doesn't deal with the issue of PTSD cutting in after - maybe long after - people have hung up their uniform for good.

I don't see how calumniating the author of the article (who from other editions of his column seems to be a hospital psychiatrist) actually helps move the game along. My point in posting this was merely to point out that at last SOMEONE outside the Services has some understanding of the problem, anmd some sympathy for its sufferers.

However I necessarily defer to those who have actually been exposed to trauma to move this discussion along.


War Hero
i know that PSTD occurs mainly after exposure in most cases me and my shipmates where never offered any form of counselling on our return from the Falklands however in later years they where able to get help from combat stress in a top notch supportive manner, i think the problem i think with civvies is that they view it in the same way Serviceman viewed yuppy flu if you have no experienced it its difficult tp relate


War Hero
Once again I am disgusted with the actions of our failing state. Only 13 shrinks and no mental health wards dedicated to service pesonnel. Tragic, truly tragic....


Seaweed, you're right. But the doc's article doesn't make clear whether or not he's referring to serving personnel, ex-serving, reservists or TA. There has been no small degree of scurillous reporting (and commenting on this and other websites) that intimates or even blatantly states that we don't offer ANY mental health support, even to serving personnel. Therefore given how vague the doc was with regard to who he was talking about I felt the need to point out that we actually offer a bloody good mental health service to serving personnel (and to demobilised reservists via Chilwell) but I share your disquiet about services offered (or not) to ex-military personnel.

I suppose the central issues of my post were these:-

We have a (reasonably) well resourced and highly trained mental health service standing ready to meet the mental health needs of serving personnel.

A hell of a lot of serving personnel don't even know we exist.

A hell of a lot of serving personnel won't come and see us while they are serving for fear of being labelled a fruitloop or something.

Therefore a lot of ex-military end up seeking support once they've left the service.

So my solution would be twofold -

Provide more, better services for veterans (over and above the six centres the govt are setting up).

Put more effort into de-stigmatising mental health matters amongst the serving population and thus encourage engagement whilst serving, so that we send less out into civvie street with 'hidden' mental health problems that can blight their civilian lives.

Speaking for my profession, we do go out and 'evangelise' by talking to people as much as we can. If anything can be done to encourage people to actually listen, that would be helpful.

In the immediate run-up to TELIC 1 I was in Germany, and every single DCMH in BFG had been tasked to deliver a pre-op stress brief to deploying troops. However, less than 15% of the deployed force actually got the brief, because the COs of the other 85% didn't want us psycho-wierdos filling their brave boys heads with pink 'n' fluffy psychobabbble before they rolled off into battle. Like I said in my first post on the matter - go figure. You either take this issue seriously or you don't


onMmmm All very appropriate and interesting. Pray tell me where this situation stands then ? I know several shipmates of mine who served down south (Falklands) who are only now displaying symptoms of PTSD. Who is around to help these guys. I am FTRS, where do I get some assistance ??? The terms and conditions of my contract state that I am no longer eligible for Medical and Dental Care by the MOD. The veterans agency cannot help (so they say) as I am, in their eyes, still serving. Combat Stress, I know from a very very reliable source that it takes at least 6 months to get some attention in this quarter. The power brokers are all b******s, one whiff of this to get out (PTSD) and the MOD consequently face a compensation bill of literally millions. Thats probalby why it is so difficult to get any help. Tell me how many ex-Falklands Veterans got any form of counselling as a matter of course ? Back from FI, 3 weeks leave. Back to work ? According to the MOD PTSD did not exist prior to 1991. ?? We are treated like shite !
I think Roosevelt stated " For those of us who have known combat, life has a flavour that the protected will never know".


War Hero
Seaweed said:
..........I don't see how calumniating the author of the article (who from other editions of his column seems to be a hospital psychiatrist) actually helps move the game along. My point in posting this was merely to point out that at last SOMEONE outside the Services has some understanding of the problem, anmd some sympathy for its sufferers.........

Whatever else he may be, Max Pemberton (whilst writing his column) is a journalist. Don't be deceived into thinking that just because he and his editors have decided that this makes good copy any of them actually give a shit.


War Hero
i totally agree with you Sparker, i was a Doc and counselling was not a service that was even thought of at the time,had the Same routine back from FI 3 weeks leave and back to work,If you take the causualty figures FI being 254 in 74 days as oppossed to roughly the same in 4 years then not only is it critical to provide Counselling for our current Forces but even more critical to provde this service for our Falkland Veterans.

I think the MODS View is because we sailed back to our respective Ports we had had a safe Jorney and wont understand that for 74 days we lived with the expectation of Death on a daily basis air attack ,exocet, and in my case the horric time our ships company had rescuing the crew of conveyor

I thin it now time that the Armed Forces and Veteran organisations make it quite clear this is an election issue.
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