Combat Stress (www.combatstress.org.uk) is the UK's leading military charity specialising in the care of veterans' mental health. Founded in 1919, our aim is to ensure that veterans receive the right mental health care, in the right place, at the right time.
At present, Combat Stress is working with over 4,800 veterans - more than at any time in our long history. This includes 589 who served in Iraq and 228 who have served in Afghanistan. Our youngest veteran is just 20 years old. Demand for our services is rising: 1,443 veterans contacted us for help in the financial year 2010-2011.
On average it takes 13.1 years from Service discharge for veterans to make the first approach to Combat Stress for help, by which time their condition is often highly complex. We treat conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety disorders. Our services are free of charge to every veteran. To help veterans rebuild their lives, we provide a range of services.
Combat Stress Offers:
a. The Combat Stress 24-hour Helpline: 0800 138 1619. Text: 07537 404 719 (standard charges may apply for texts). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Providing confidential help and advice on any mental health issues to the military community and their families.
b. A UK-wide community outreach service supporting veterans and families close to home, delivered by teams of Mental Health Practitioners, Community Psychiatric Nurses, and Regional Welfare Officers.
c. Specialist clinical treatment at three short-stay residential centres in Shropshire, Surrey and Ayrshire.
d. The Six-week Veterans' Programme – a new programme which started in September 2011, to provide enhanced treatment and rehabilitation for veterans with complicated presentations of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
e. A Well-Being and Rehabilitation Programme – available to all veterans receiving treatment in our short-stay centres, as part of a structured occupational therapy model. The timetable will include: employment mentoring; life skills workshops; social activities in the community, etc.
For more information about Combat Stress or to make a donation, please visit www.combatstress.org.uk.
Tyrwhitt House, Oaklawn Road, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 0BX Tel: 01372 587 140 Email: email@example.com. Registered Charity No: 206002 (England and Wales), SC038828 (Scotland).
Peter, one of the many veterans helped by Combat Stress, with his family.
Peter was just 17 when he was deployed to Kosovo with the Royal Irish 1st Battalion to face weeks of fierce fighting. By the age of 21 Peter helped train the Sierra Leone army to prevent the theft of blood diamonds and risked his life to gather intelligence from behind enemy lines in Iraq before going into battle.
Having completed four tours in five years, Peter had seen enough and asked to leave the Army. Back home he threw himself into building a business supplying boots and providing for his young family. But all the time he knew turmoil was building inside him. The tipping point came when he was called to serve in Iraq again. Peter was sent into his fiercest and bloodiest combat yet. Such relentless fighting, which ended in many colleagues dying and being injured, reduced him to a shattered shell of a man.
Discharged from the army, Peter worked 100 hour weeks and turned to alcohol to hide the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from his worried wife, Rachel. 'I couldn't keep a lid on it much longer,' says Peter. It was while on a family break that he had his first flashback. 'I thought I was on patrol in Northern Ireland,' he says. 'I was left shaking for days.'
Peter can't recall the next 10 months. He doesn't remember sleeping under the dining room table, rocking himself all night on the living room floor, or putting on his uniform and disappearing into the night. Nor can he recollect throwing his medals in the bin, including the military cross, awarded for saving a wounded colleague from a vehicle while under attack.
Fortunately his doctor put him in contact with Combat Stress. Having received medical treatment, counselling and practical support, Peter is now back on his feet, having lost his business, his health temporarily and almost his family.
'Combat Stress basically saved our lives. Their practical and medical help take the pressure off us so I could get myself together. I can't thank them enough.'
If, like Peter, you have been affected by your experiences in the British Armed Forces, wherever you served, whatever your age, it's never too late to get the help you need. Please call our 24-hour helpline on 0800 138 1619.