Real Story 1930hrs tonight

Yet again the MoD was in for a slating by the media over their after care for wounded soldiers coming back from Iraq and the Gulf.
In case you missed it:
Gulf War II vets 'abandoned' by MoD

It is 19 months since Saddam Hussein was toppled - but there seems little sign of an end to the fighting in Iraq.
In the current conflict 74 British troops have been killed, while 2,700 have been medically evacuated.

Some soldiers say they are satisfied with the help they have received since coming home but Real Story has discovered that many others feel betrayed and abandoned by the military.

In tonight's programme, reporter Morland Sanders meets some of the men who have come home injured, traumatised, and even suicidal.

A widow of a soldier who came back to his family only to take his own life says families need more support to help their loved ones cope after witnessing the horrors of war.

Is enough being done for British troops suffering after serving in Iraq?
Interesting. MoD Media Ops emailed mil med facilities to advise that there may be criticism and to reassure us all that they had co-operated.

The programme showed the failure not of the medical services in theatre or immediately on return, but of the support systems once the injured go on sick leave.

In particular -

- the MAO(CH) system was designed to deal with small numbers of patients admitted to civilian hospitals (ie when most were treated in mil hospitals) and sick at home. It is now hopelessly overwhelmed.

- the reliance on the NHS to provide continuing care in many cases means that many patients are consigned to waiting lists or being dealt with by staff who have no understanding of what's happened to them.

- the statement by MoD that they collaborate with the NHS to treat PTSD, as if they make sure people get the best treatment, is risible. Very few NHS psychiatrists have a good understanding of the condition, and most patients have to be referred by GPs, who have less. The NHS has no centres of excellence for treating PTSD, and thus, to the best of my knowledge, no specialist beds. The NHS National Institute for Clinical Excellence is not even due to publish its guidelines on the treatment of PTSD until Mar 2005 - this may be the collaboration MoD refers to; they are listed as a 'stakeholder' in the consultations. MoD closed the only military inpatient psychiatric facility this year, farming cases out to private clinics.

- in some cases unit support is not all it might be, but this may well be partly due to overstretch and a perception that others are dealing.

There will always be some cases where individuals or their families will claim that not enough has been done, and this is true whatever the cause - RTA, illness etc. However, I am aware of a number of cases where the system has let people down and then sought to shift the blame to the individual.
Watched it, didn't see much wrong with it.

The programme had a point - MoD has always had a problem dealing with psychological issues. The case of the former medic with PTSD and who was discharged is typical of far too many.

But as with so many things, I think the root of the problem is budgetary. I don't think MoD is so callous that it doesn't care about former servicemen who have medical problems incurred in the course of duty, I think it fears the impact supporting those servicemen will have on its meagre budget.
OldChap said:
Watched it, didn't see much wrong with it.

The programme had a point - MoD has always had a problem dealing with psychological issues. The case of the former medic with PTSD and who was discharged is typical of far too many.

But as with so many things, I think the root of the problem is budgetary. I don't think MoD is so callous that it doesn't care about former servicemen who have medical problems incurred in the course of duty, I think it fears the impact supporting those servicemen will have on its meagre budget.
Which of course it wastes on: :roll:
Reminds me of a great book by Robert Lawrence MC and his Father Wing Commander John Lawrence called "When the Fighting is Over", now sadly out of print.

Robert was a platoon Commander with the SG and wounded on Tumbledown - shot in the back of the head and as a result badly disabled. Still managed to win the MC for the assault though.

The story of his treatment after being wounded is tragic, from unhygienic hospitals to patronising staff. Basically the conclusion was that the Army had been caught out after so many years of peace.

What saved him was the tireless work of his Father , an Ex RAF Officer with good connections and friends in high places, constantly banging on doors and never giving up on his crippled son.

Here are some quotes

What I didn't realise, until, like so many others I came back crippled after doing my bit for my country, was the extent to which we had been conned. Conned into believing in a set of priorities and principles that the rest of the world and British society in general no longer gave two hoots about. We had been 'their boys' fighting in the Falklands and when the fighting was over, nobody wanted to know.

The indifference, embarrassment, exploitation and countless bureaucratic cock-ups that followed my return home were not what I expected. They opened my eyes. They changed me.They changed my Father, a great patriot, with twenty eight years in the RAF behind him. He believed so strongly in the forces, and believed 'the system' would look after us all. I think the reality shook him. It almost as if a staunch Christian, who had always lived and acted in a respectful Christian way, were suddenly being made to question God.

......What's frightening is how much I still suffered despite having the sort of Father I had ..... It made me wonder, if this is happening to me, an Officer with a supportive forces family, what the hell was happening to the injured Guardsman whose Father was an out of work shipbuilder in Glasgow, or an out of work Miner in Wales?
Lt R.Lawrence M.C. 1988

Link to write up about the movie - Lawrence played by Colin Firth

Where is the good Wing Commander when a new generation need him?
I agree that there are individual cases that get left behind in the system.
An awful lot of work has gone on over the past year or so to try and pick up those who have fallen by the wayside both is physical and psychiatric care. I'd like to make a few other points too.....

1. When will the COs pickup on psychiatry services being offered pre-op and take note of how the system works BEFORE they go away. It would help the mental health services no end if this could be taken on board BEFORE the damage is done. It could help to make treatment more efficient.

2. What are the soldier's expectations? Often higher than can be met even with the best will/system in the world. The programme highlighted that the soldiers thought the MoD could do more.....there was only one postitive suggestion made by a widow. If the system is broken then give practical examples on how it could be improved.

3. Again, on the expectation side, are soldiers being told that, even with the best treatment available, that there may never be a cure for their illness? Sometimes folks think that a magic wand can be waved and everything will be ok. Extreme PTSD is notoriously difficult to treat, even with the best psychiatrists involved.

Don't get me wrong - I know there are still lots of improvements that can be made in the care of soldiers but things are (slowly) improving. It needs support from Top down.....Anyone important listening out there?
Something which is even more overlooked than psychiatric illness derived from operations is psychiatric illness derived from training accidents.

From personal experience I would say this is more common than operation-derived illness, as 4 out of the 5 cases I have known have come from training accidents, and also because, manifestly, more training goes on than high-intensity operations.

One can trace all this back to 'LMF' cases, shellshock, and beyond. The mind and its problems are a big can of worms which the MoD and its antecedents have historically been reluctant to deal with, but unless MoD wants more former soldiers on television saying 'Don't join the Army, it'll screw you over and spit you out', it'll have to.
Very true oldchap but lets also look at how the MoD got rid of that problem :evil:

Army 'forcing out sick Gulf war veterans'
(Filed: 01/12/2003)

MoD using 'manning control' system to avoid paying soldiers medical pensions, reports Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent

The Ministry of Defence forced "hundreds" of victims of Gulf war syndrome to quit the Army under a system known as manning control to avoid paying them medical pensions.

If the soldiers were medically discharged they would have been automatically eligible for a medical pension. But because they were forced to quit, they received nothing.

The National Gulf Veterans and Families Association said yesterday that at least 400 of its members were forced out under the manning control system rather than being medically discharged.

Shaun Rusling, the association's chairman, said they were considering taking a class action against the MoD.

"All these people can prove they should have been medically discharged, but instead were wrongly discharged from the Army, either by manning control or jumping on their own accord before they were pushed.

"Because they weren't properly medically discharged they do not have any medical pension. It is a national disgrace, and it has been well hidden until now by the MoD fudging figures."

The revelation follows an admission by Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, that the MoD's figures for the numbers manning controlled were distorted.

The policy, first exposed by the case of Cpl Paul Biddis, has seen thousands of soldiers given the choice of being dismissed or switching to a short-term contract in a move designed to cut the numbers serving 22 years.

At the end of the short-term contract, the soldier is told that his or her "services are no longer required", allowing the MoD to evade its pension obligations.

Soldiers sign on for 22 years with options to leave at three-year points but unless they do something wrong, the Army can only dispense with their services at the six, nine or 12-year points. If they serve for the full 22 years they receive an immediate pension. This costs the MoD millions of pounds a year.

The Government announced a new system which does away with the immediate pension in the Queen's Speech but anyone who is already in the Army will still receive it if they serve the full 22 years.

The MoD has insisted that only a very small number of soldiers have been "manning controlled".

But even before the Gulf war veterans came forward 360 victims were taking legal action against the MoD.

Mr Hoon admitted, in a letter to Paul Keetch, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, that many more may have been affected since "some soldiers elected to leave" rather than wait to be forced out. His admission comes as documents leaked to The Daily Telegraph show that defence ministers misled Parliament over the extent of the "manning control" policy.

Lewis Moonie, the then veterans minister, told Parliament in June that there were "no plans to conduct any manning control point reviews in the next 12 months".

Mr Moonie's successor, Ivor Caplin, confirmed last month in a written reply to a question from Mr Keetch that this suspension was still in place.

But The Telegraph has seen documents sent to units since the alleged suspension in which they are still being given lists of soldiers who are to be considered for manning control.

One document said the Army Personnel Centre in Glasgow, which orchestrated the policy, "would no longer prompt units with a list of corporals, lance-corporals and privates approaching the manning control point".

But a subsequent document sent to the same unit gave a list of soldiers approaching their manning control points and when the unit did nothing it received a demand for confirmation that action was being taken.

Mr Keetch called for an inquiry amid what he said was mounting evidence that the system had been abused.

The legal action that was pending would force the MoD to come clean eventually, he said. Mr Keetch added: "If these Gulf war heroes were chucked on the scrap heap and denied medical pensions to save money, it is a national disgrace."
In Australia we have a Department of Veterans Affairs whjch looks after Medically discharged and disabled Veterans of various conflicts. and a body known as the repatreation medical authority


Phone: 07 3815 9404
Fax: 07 3815 9412
Address: GPO Box 1014, Brisbane QLD 4001

The Repatriation Medical Authority (RMA) is an independent statutory authority responsible to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. The RMA consists of a panel of five practitioners eminent in fields of medical science. Their role is to determine Statements of Principles (SOPs), based on sound medical-scientific evidence, for any disease, injury or death that could be related to military service

sounds like you need to use our model
I have just seen this (possibly connected matter) on the MOD Oracle site:

Soldier Hunted After Rifle Theft

Police are hunting a 21-year-old Iraq War veteran after a military rifle was stolen from an Army barracks.

West Midlands Police said they were anxious to trace Lance Corporal James Piotrowski, a member of the Irish Guards based at London's Wellington Barracks.

Assistant Chief Constable Stuart Hyde told a news conference in Birmingham: "It is very important that James is located as part of this investigation and I would call upon his friends to help us find him."

Mr Hyde said the joint operation with the Royal Military Police to locate the soldier had led to the arrest of two women and one man.

He said it was vital to locate the serviceman, who originates from Northfield, Birmingham, to ensure his welfare.

Describing Mr Piotrowski, Mr Hyde said: "Although his military service has been short, he has served his Queen and country bravely, including three months at the height of the Iraq War.

"Having succeeded in all his training courses, he was promoted very quickly in recognition of his skills and ability.

"James has a number of friends and colleagues from the Northfield area, many of whom will want to ensure his and the public's safety. It is very important that James is located as part of this investigation and I would call upon his friends who may know where he is, and who may be reluctant through misplaced loyalty, to help us.

"The best service you can do, as a friend, is to help us locate him.

"I would like to reassure the public that we are undertaking additional patrols within the Northfield area of the city and have undertaken a great deal of work during the night to try to find James."

I hope that they find him soon before he can harm either himself or others.
He's been lifted, and he came quietly.

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