War's Silent Victims; 360 Young Britons Who Have Fought in Iraq & Afghanistan Are Being Treated for Severe Mental Trauma after Experiencing the Horror of Conflict. Their Lives Are in Ruins. Experts Believe It's Thetip of the Iceberg

Sunday Mirror (London, England), April 12, 2009 | Go to article overview

War's Silent Victims; 360 Young Britons Who Have Fought in Iraq & Afghanistan Are Being Treated for Severe Mental Trauma after Experiencing the Horror of Conflict. Their Lives Are in Ruins. Experts Believe It's Thetip of the Iceberg


Byline: RUPERT HAMER

MORE than 360 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are being treated for mental trauma - after witnessing horrific scenes not seen by British soldiers since World War 2.

These young soldiers, many barely out of their teens, have witnessed colleagues killed or wounded, or lost limbs themselves.

Yet the true scale of the tragedy has been hidden by the Ministry of Defence, who refuse to reveal details of injuries suffered by soldiers.

Today Combat Stress, a mental health charity which works with former soldiers, reveals that they have 362 vets suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder on their books.

And a separate secret document seen by the Sunday Mirror shows the MoD has sent more than 200 troops to the Priory clinic for treatment.

Alarmingly, the charity say the figures are just the "tip of the iceberg" and add that the rate at which soldiers are developing the condition has accelerated. Usually it takes 13 years for cases of post-traumatic stress disorder to develop in veterans.

But psychiatrists at Combat Stress's pioneering centre say the men and women now being treated have come forward after just THREE years.

It is a graphic illustration of the terrors which have been witnessed after six years of heavy fighting in the two war zones - some of which has been described as "the hardest fighting since the Korean War".

One soldier told how he hallucinated in supermarket aisles, thinking he was back on the narrow, dangerous streets of Basra.

Another Royal Marine commando revealed how he ended up smashing his parents' home. And another 21-year-old was so traumatised by his experiences he couldn't face life any more and committed suicide.

Dr Walter Busuttil, a consultant psychiatrist at Combat Stress, said: "What we are seeing now is just the tip of the iceberg. …

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