It's now official. Mentally-scarred veterans are being medically discharged from the British army with...wait for it....a golden handshake of £3000! Is that all they're worth? Soldiers whose lives have been shattered by the traumas of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq are being paid as little as £3000 as compensation for all they've suffered after their medical discharge.
What price bravery? What price to sacrifice your own mental health in pursuit of fighting for your country?
Of course, none of this is ever mentioned in those exciting ads inviting you to apply for a career in the British forces. The ads are full of enticing scenes of far-away exotic locations, team-work with your mates, and you get paid too. What a wonderful job! However, there isn't even any small-print to warn you against the worst thing of all. You might just lose your life in pursuit of this new ‘wonderful' job, and at the very least return home injured and battle-scarred. What? I hear you say. A small price to pay for all that this career offers you?
Records show that, on average, the Ministry of Defence pays servicemen and women traumatised by delusions, flashbacks, severe depression and hallucinations the grand sum of £5,000.
Many senior political figures like John Major, former PM, have written to the current PM in the strongest possible terms, condemning such low payouts. Many charities have also complained, demanding changes to the compensation system as a whole.
So, how many servicemen have there actually been who have been discharged on mental health grounds over the last two years. The answer? 4,916 cases of mental disorder in British troops who toured Iraq and Afghanistan, whilst there were 67 who served in the two war zones who committed suicide since 2003.
One victim, who saw his friend's throat obliterated by a bomb blast committed by a suicide bomber, said he would have been far better off is he had signed on as unemployed and claimed benefits. Another victim accused the government of washing their hands of servicemen who return home mentally ill from all that they experienced in the British army.
Captain Neil Christie, a Royal Marine, developed PTSD after being posted to Afghanistan in 2006. He receives a grand total of £180 pm to live on and no other benefits. If he were unemployed, he would get £260 pm in income support plus other benefits.
Where is the justice in all this?
The MOD says that veterans who need mental health care receive "excellent support" from the NHS.
Not by these reports, they don't!