Ex-soldier calls for improved mental health provisions

A retired Army Major has warned the forces that it could be on the cusp of a "tsunami of depression" if current issues are not resolved, silobreaker.com reports.

Major Andrew Johnstone claimed that he was unprepared for the horrors of war when he first landed in East Timor on operations. He claimed that many of the training tactics on offer dated back to the Vietnam War, which were long out of date by the time of his first deployment.

Now, following the death of a 22-year old soldier, Major Johnstone has gone on record to say that large changes need to be brought in if the army is to avoid huge numbers of returning servicemen and women doing so with mental illnesses and scarring.

One issue Major Johnstone addressed was that of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Large numbers of soldiers encounter this either during their operations or on retirement, which is caused by the sights they've witnessed during operations. Major Johnstone himself also suffered PTSD and claimed that a simple way of easing the issue would be to de-stigmatise it.

Instead, soldiers could be offered the chance to speak up about their fears, during a full counselling course, which would provide them with the help they need without the added worry of it bringing their career to an end.

Explaining, Major Johnstone told northernstar.com: "I believe that the onset of my PTSD was in 1999, and [I] spend a decade masking my symptoms because I felt if I spoke up I would lose my career. If PTSD had not been feared as so taboo and career ending, I would have spoken up about how I was feeling."