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For context, Andy served in the Falklands Conflict as a subaltern, as an ATO In Belfast and as an Instructor at the Felix Centre, and commanded 621 EOD Company. He was a C-IED staff officer attached to the US for three tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Andy has specifically given permission to use the words below, associated with his name.
“The discussion on mental health and PTSD is one that I have a significant interest in. I suffered my mental health breakdown in April 2013 and was diagnosed as suffering from PTSD, I was removed from all duties and informed that the MoD could not employ me in any EOD or C-IED duties again.
I agree strongly that not being in the fold of the Ammunition Trade at the time of my breakdown made things particularly difficult for me, in addition I returned from Afghanistan in late 2012 to a posting where I knew no one from any previous postings. I felt isolated and added to that my previous three operational tours had all been with US forces and therefore when discussions involved Helmand province or MND SE in Iraq I was unfamiliar with the names of FOBs, routes, local towns and villages, this added to the isolation.
I received excellent post-breakdown mental healthcare from the MoD, my unit however was, quite frankly, awful in the way it handled me. My one star and full colonel employing officer did not visit me once at my home! On moving North, I came under admin on of the Personnel Recovery Unit (PRU) at Preston, they were excellent in their role of supporting military personnel who are long term sick or in the process of being medically discharged. One of the things that they did was to transfer my mental health care from the MoD to the NHS, this went well, but within 6 months I had fallen off the NHS radar.
Earlier this year I was suffering a mental health crisis and I went to the NHS to get urgent help, I was given an appointment for an assessment that was six weeks after the time I had informed them I needed urgent help! This is with my local health centre where I am registered as a Veteran with PTSD, under the Military Covenant I feel that I should have been seen earlier. The local health centre had to change the date of my assessment, did not phone me but sent a letter that arrived eight weeks after it was sent!???!
I'm functioning well, I play a lot of golf as my main form of therapy, it works for me! I also use the local gym to burn off excess 'fight or flight' adrenaline in my system. I remain stress sensitive and I have major problems with sleep, but as I said, I do function well. I suffer from dips in mood but at least I understand what is happening, similarly I do get a bit emotional at times. I manage without resorting to alcohol abuse.”