Combat Stress

From the Daily Express, Mon 061204:

Easing the stress of military combat

Each week the DE champions the work of a favourite charity. Here's a man who has received help from CS since a bad spinal injury ended his Army's chef career.

When Nick White reached up to take some heavy catering equipment from an Army colleague, his life changed. He watched in horror as his friend's wrist gave way and the container landed squarely on top of him, pinning him to the ground.
"I heard the discs in my back snap," he says. "The sound was like someone cracking their knuckles. I realised I couldn't move my back or my legs and I thought I'd been paralysed."

Nick, from Gravesend, Kent, had joined the Army as a chef at 15 and had always enjoyed an accident, in 1978, he spent months in traction and had an operation to correct four prolapsed discs. He has never been free of pain since. Four years later, another operation, a spinal fusion, made it possible for him to continue in military service. "I felt like a weak link as I was always worried about my back," he says. "I couldn't move as fast as everyone else, yet I wanted to stay in the Army. I loved the life."
Nick's back wasn't his only concern. A difficult period in NI also caused him to rethink his career. Once he was ambushed while travelling with colleagues in an unarmed car. "A bullet flew past me," he says, "and I was also near an explosion. It shook me up a lot."

He returned to civilian life after 23 years in the Army but his life was blighted when his spinal fusion failed. "Since then I have deteriorated from having a limp to needing two waking sticks and, for distances of more than a quarter of a mile, a wheelchair," he says. He became a catering teacher but was forced to give it up and hasn't been able to work since. "Some days the pain is excruciating. I miss being able to work. I get so frustrated that I can't do anything."

During a visit to St Thomas' Hospital in London, Nick, 48, took part in a psychology session. "The instructor wrote the symptoms for depression n the board, mood swings, irritability, insomnia. I stared at the board and it hit me. 'That's me' I thought." He contacted CS, the only charity offering specialist help and care to ex-military people who suffer from psychological conditions caused by their service.

Now Nick, who is married to Marion, 47, and has two sons, Christopher, 25, and Tony, 23, attends a residential centre several times a year for therapy. "The staff are brilliant," he says. "Many mental health agencies' specialists don't understand the psychological impact of military service."

Combat Stress was formed in 1919 and now helps 7,000 former Service people and their families. The charity provides welfare officers and has three treatment centres offering cognitive behaviour therapy, anxiety management and post traumatic stress education. Its welfare officers are all ex-Service people. Last year it helped 600 new clients, five of them Iraq war veterans.

"I have progressed a lot because of CS," says Nick. "I take 14 medications a day but I still have my sense of humour and a smile. CS has been my lifeline."
Combat Stress, Tyrwhitt House, Oaklawn Rd, Leatherhead, Surrey, KT22 0BX. Email:
So good to see this excellent organisation get recognition in the press. Wish there was more awareness of Combat Stress and what it does! Unfortunately it's not the case though and here's one such case that I've come across in my professional life.
I work in the NHS and once treated an ex-jock whose symptoms I recognised as PTSD, tried to get help for him from the local Mental Health team, but to no avail. He'd already been labelled by them as "personality disorder" and they wouldn't change their stance. Despite the fact that I'd shown them relevant professional information sent to me by the excellent people at CS. To say I was disgusted was an understatement and I still feel to this day that yet again this country failed someone who was prepared to serve where sent! :evil:


Book Reviewer
The big chore for kids at Christmas is writing all those 'Thank you' notes to Gran and Uncle Sam, Auntie Lou and the Cousins at number 22.... thought I'd get mine in early !

To everyone who sponsored either me or my three team mates in the
USMC marathon plse take a look at

...and thank you !

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