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Forgotten Heroes - join in the debate

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Eamonn Walsh | 16:35 UK time, Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Colonel Tim Collins - whose eve of battle speech before the invasion of Iraq brought him international fame - meets the soldiers who return home only to find that their service for Queen and country counts for little on civvy street.

In a Panorama Special, Collins meets veterans who struggle to find work and housing.

He sleeps rough on the streets of Brighton with a former soldier who's spent much of the past six years either on the streets or in jail.

He meets veterans who fear for their sanity as they suffer flashbacks, night terrors and violent outbursts and talks to families who struggle to cope with the husbands and fathers who went to war, only to come home as strangers.

We welcome your views on Forgotten Heroes. Please use this forum to leave a comment.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    We welcome your views on the programme. Please use this forum to leave a comment.

  • Comment number 2.

    Good that this is being highlighted at long last, pity its about 40 years or more too late. For all those that will inevitably say " well they signed up they knew what they were letting themselves in for" spend a day in our boots if you dare !!

  • Comment number 3.

    Rooted to the spot watching this - so true and no exactly what Mr Collins is on about! I have tried to get a contact address for him with a specific idea I have had re this problem and wondered if you would be able to act as go between for this. Only if he is willing of course!
    Something has to be done for these guys, women and their families!

  • Comment number 4.

    The Comment By Liam Fox! Review the the policies. THEY BROKE IT. Did you know an ex prison gets better treated, then any forces personnel.

  • Comment number 5.

    Re above - the really sad thing is that because forces personnel DONT get enough help some of them end up being prisoners too!
    All the political chit chat is just that - they have absolutely no idea of what it is like for either the men abroad or indeed the families they leave over here - glad Panorama have at least started to pull back the ring-pull on this huge can of worms.

  • Comment number 6.

    Can't help being moved, and angered by this. I have said for yrs, to friends who have been Service Men, that the Government does not do anything like enough for our Ex-Servicemen and Women. Gov is quite happy to ask these people to go and lay their lives on the line but, when they finish, they are forgotten about! It is even worse when one considers that the 'Para-military's' in N.Ireland look after 'their' Ex-Servicemen, and their families, far better than the British Government does to it's. It is a National Shame! All Governments are the same no matter if Lab, Con or even Con/Dem. I ask that each person reading this, write to their MP, demanding that action is taken immediately to put this situation right!

  • Comment number 7.

    A brilliant but overdue programme. In our fallen society we give more consideration to convicts and illegal immigrants than we do to our heroes and genuine needy. All we get is platitudes from the politicians. I wish I knew how to get it back on track. Mr Cameron make this a priority!!

  • Comment number 8.

    A superb programme highlighting the plight of many of our ex forces personnel. Hopefully this will kickstart this government into putting serious help in place that they have already promised but so far failed to deliver on.

  • Comment number 9.

    There is one area they haven't covered! All the physically disabled personnel, who have little or no help.

  • Comment number 10.

    These men were children. I have no connection to the military but I struggle to understand why there is so much empty or worse sold off army housing. There is also the issue that there are so many charities helping ex service people. The adminstration costs of each one could provide valuable funding to one central organisation. Each and every serviceperson made the decision to join up but that by no means gives their employer the right to abandon them at the end of a contract. Perhaps the government should take an initiative of the city and offer ex employees excessive pay offs. At least these people are worthy of the money. It is a shame in the truest sense.

  • Comment number 11.

    I know I'm one of them.

  • Comment number 12.

    Ex officers do not appear to suffer the same post combat problems as other ranks. Is this so? Is it due to them having better support mechanisms or better job prospects?

  • Comment number 13.

    I very much welcome this program. I almost ended up on the streets after leaving the Royal Air Force in 2001. I was due to attened resettlment in my last few months of service but was needed to work to cover the two pregnant girls in my section. Despite having applied for local council housing in my home area 18 months prior to discharge I was still at the bottom of the list a few months before exiting. I was told by my local council housing office that I was a lower priority than prisoners leaving prison, asylum seekers and young pregnant teenagers. Luckily I had a relative take me in, I got work and got my own place but it could have been so different. The Government cares not a jot once you leave, and the plight of not just veterans but combat veterans is disgusting. If you are an asylum seeker who turns up at dover you at least get a roof over your head and some food. More than our veterans do on discharge. And today we hear that Cameron has gone back on his word to enshrine the military covenant in law. The public are extremely generous to charities like H4H, and its lucky for those veterans that thay are. Because Tommy Atkins by Kipling was never so poignant as today, hundreds of years after it was written.

  • Comment number 14.

    I am so pleased this has been highlighted, could one of the charities like British Legion provide a link for employers to go to when recruiting staff. I work within agriculture one of the few occupation which often provide housing for staff and offer physical work in the outdoors so a good middle ground for those leaving the forces. I would like to help, I have a agric college close to me so if there was funding for re training I am sure those leaving the armed forces, with or without pysical disablilites could look at agriculture, horticulture and forestry to jobs, it is an industry people shy away from because of the hours and physical side of the work.

  • Comment number 15.

    I have just finished watching the programme and I have several emotions ranging from anger, sadness and b

  • Comment number 16.

    Long overdue and thought provoking - I am the mum of one such ex-soldier and more than three years after he left Afghanistan, he still shows some of the classic signs of PTSD. We have struggled to maintain any kind of relationship, yet alone the close one we used to have. The lack of support for young soldiers leaving the Army is shameful and it's not just they themselves who suffer - families are dealing with the fallout every day, often without any clue where to turn to for help. It is to be hoped that this programme brings more awareness to what is a real and painful experience for all concerned.

  • Comment number 17.

    Well done for highlighting this problem again,I am an ex Petty Officer Royal Navy,served in the Falklands and the Gulf 1991,I have had dealings with Combat Stress and the RBL,since leaving the Navy I have been divorced with the petition against me saying that I would not go out with my wife,and was scaring her,(not that I think I was)I then went through bankruptcy post divorce,and at the end of that locked myself away from society for three months,I had to rely on the charities to get me out of that.Still suffer on bonfire night forever ducking,find its best to stay in for a few nights,people worry more about there pets on bonfire night

  • Comment number 18.

    What a superb programme,i just hope something comes of it from those who can really make a difference, all our veterans deserve the best medical, psychological and social care this country can offer for free for life

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm one of a growing number of practitioners of EFT who would dearly love to help out our servicemen suffering from PTSD. The guy who developed this fantastic non-invasive therapy (Gary Craig) and his colleague who has researched into its effectiveness (Dawson Church) have been busting their guts banging on the doors of Congress in the US so that Vietnamese War Veterans can benefit sooner rather than later. Getting the message across seems to be proving just as difficult in the UK. If you're interested in learning more please checkout:

    www.operation-emotionalfreedom.com/index-4.html

  • Comment number 21.

    I am a Hypnotherapist. I specialise in trauma and PTSD. I was trained in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by an ex soldier who saw action in Iraq, Bosnia and Northern Ireland. The Panorama programme was illuminating and frustrating. I WANT to help ex Forces and other people who suffer from PTSD - because Police Fire fighters and those in incidents like Car accidents and major events like 9/11 also suffer. However as the programme points out there is no conduit to those who actually want to help. I offer a special low rate of £35 to sufferers of PTSD and despite the fact that I live near Colchester which has a major barracks I have had one enquiry. The culture of the Forces and the disinterest of the Government and the apathy of the MOD mean that we have indeed a ticking time bomb. Combat Stress discounts Hypnotherapy amd NICE therefore follows suit - and yet my trainer has helped a large number of veterans recover from PTSD. And so can I - I specialise in Trauma and have helped many people recover from quite serious Trauma. I approached many ex veteran's charities and organisations and encountered either extreme apathy or a request for a large fee to publicise my services and the comment from one: "Not that it will do any good." Where is the logic? Where is the joined up thinking? I am offering my expertise as an ex Harley Street Hypnotherapist very cheaply because I want to help - and am getting blown off by all those organisations who could really do with some help. I am incidentally at http:\\edgehypno.com but I expect you won't publicise that.

    Graham Howes ASHPH GQHP GHR registered GHSC regulated CNHC registered and regulated

  • Comment number 22.

    i servered for 5 1/2 years with the 9th/12th Royal Lancers and was on Op Telic 3. i have been diagnosed with PTSD and would like to thank panorama for final razing these issues also a very big thanks to the guys that where show in it. i have support from Combat Stress but they are over stretched i am luck if i see them twice a year i have tried to get support from my local authorities which is in Coventry and they say that Combat Stress is all the support i need. this is obviously not the case and more support is need for me and others like me. with my Fiancé i am lucky because she did not know me before so she only knows me like i am now.

    all i want to say is thank and the Government needs to buck up it ideas and start doing something.

  • Comment number 23.

    My husband, ex SAS, has suffered with PTSD for several years. He received some support in the beginning, but was then diagnosed with cancer. He started drinking when he realised that he would never be the same again, either physically or mentally. The mental health care was then removed until he could conquer the alcoholism. We now receive no support. He was the best man in the world and he is now drinking himself to death. My heart bleeds for all those families who will face this in the years to come.

  • Comment number 24.

    An excellent programme giving a good insight what it can be like when you leave the Forces.
    I was lucky I moved in with my Fiancee and had a job sorted before my resettlement finished. However it didn't take long to put all that in jeopardy.
    I had served in NI and bottled a lot of things up, it didn't take much to wind me up. Working in a bar didn't help either as it was too easy to have a drink after work.
    I got told by her indoors to go to the doctors and talk to them or the wedding was off. When I went to the doctors they sent me to a nurse. They had no idea how to help. I got given a tape and told to play it in a darkened room while I lay down if I got angry.
    That was almost 20 years ago, looks like things haven't moved on since then either.
    Thankfully though I started talking to the missus to be and my family but I still get angry about how little help there was at the time.
    Angrier after the programme right enough that these guys who have gone through worse than I did and still not getting help.

  • Comment number 25.

    Totally moved by the experiences of these valuable men.. so angry that there is no chain of support for them to find their place back in to civilian life. So shocked at how they are left alone with no help and some struggling with the horrors that they faced on tour, the fear, close friends been maimed and killed and to live with it plus leaving the Army family without support is a sorry state. This Country owes them BIG time. Thank goodness for this programme raising this subject and for the RBL and the Welfare Officer who thought ahead and for the words of the gentleman from Remount who said that these ex-Army gents are valuable to our society - let's hope this eye opener of a programme hurries along this much needed support. My son's name is on the wall at Alrewas and I know how supportive the Army Family is. God Bless our soldiers x

  • Comment number 26.

    This was a very interesting programme - I knew that there was a problem but not aware of the scale of it. So much more should be done for the men and women who return from a war zone and try and fit back into civvy street. We as a nation should stand together and get the law changed in favour of more help and support for our men and women who have put there lives on the line for our freedom. We say we will remember them - but that should count for the ones who haven't fallen as well.
    Wife of ex forces personnel

  • Comment number 27.

    It is worth watching anything that highlights the blight after soldiers leave the army. Time and time again we hear how nothing is done , our loved ones husbands ,wives, dads, sons, cousins go to do the most important of jobs and yet so little is done to help when they leave the service or die fighting for the cause.
    It makes me so mad I grew up watching both my father , husband and family serve, I have lost some one and i have watched my father struggle after serving 24yrs and leaving the forces. He was not entitled to housing on leaving, even as he got older and set among troubles !! He is a very proud man and will not ask for help, I have contacted several agencies to try and help. He was out of work for a year due to illness lost his house had to go bankrupt live in a caravan and still he was not entitled to housing !! How can this be, more needs to be done to help ex service men and women, I encourage any programme that highlights this subject to shame the world in which we live .

  • Comment number 28.

    I thought that this was a great issue and this can only raise awareness of the issues facing veterans. What did surprise me was that Col. Collins said that he was looking for someone to co-ordinate the needs of veteran regarding welfare issues that they might have be it Housing/Medical/PTSD/Financial etc. What about the Veterans Welfare Service who are there to do precisely that? They have welfare staff based throughout the UK and Ireland including the Republic. They can act as a signposting orperation if meeded with good contacts with RBL/Combat Stress/Poppy Scotland/Erskine Hospital to name a few. If you need help go to the Veterans UK website for their contact details.

  • Comment number 29.

    I have just reviewed the website about the organisations that can offer help to veterans, once again there was no mention of PTSD Resolution the nationwide charity supporting ex serving personnel who have a 80% success rate of bringing the symptoms of PTSD to an end, this is supported by significant evidenced based practice. This is a nationwide charity with over 240 counsellors nationwide that are able NOW to offer help FREE of Charge to ex service personnel. I cannot believe that there has been another programme about the difficulties these poor chaps are facing and no reference has been made to THE charity who CAN help and are eager to do so. Any one out there who needs help check out wwww.ptsdresolution.org
    Telephone number 0845 021 7873. If you wish to contact a counsellor who IS helping ex service personnel then do not hesitate to contact me via email

  • Comment number 30.

    Well about time! The Services train these young people for years, provide them with a framework to live and breath by whilst they are part of the Services and then spit them out to cope alone with very little rehabilitation or help when they leave. No doubt some of their problems arise when they have been 'out' for more than the first few months by which time their self esteem and self confidence will have dropped severely along with their circumstances. Of course, they are not the same person who started off their training so how can they be expected to be the same when they leave? Whilst their families/non-Service friends might understand this, what to do about it, how to help? The Services - and therefore Government - have a duty to support these people when they leave. Officers are helped tremendously but then they have far more advantages anyway in life because of the school(s) they attended, and the whole ethos of their upbringing has had more input than someone at the other end of the Services 'scale'. I think it is absolutely appalling that these young people are dismissed like they are, as of no further use. There is so much emotional and psychological help that needs to be done to help them adapt to such a huge change in their life. Society, generally, recognises how stressful it is to move home; how much more stressful must it be to reinvent your life after experiences that alienate you from mainstream society?

  • Comment number 31.

    We should hang our heads in shame. Failing to support our Heroes is totally unacceptable. An excellent programme, long overdue. Let's keep up the pressure!

  • Comment number 32.

    I never served in Iraq or Afghanistan but experienced 2 years of Northern Ireland in the early 90's during my 9 years service, and saw friends and colleagues lose their lives and have my own life threatened repeatedly. I appear to of been extremely lucky having escaped with my life, a supportive wife and a network of friends and family. I was given 1 weeks resettlement, no counselling yet 6 years of nightmares, aggression and immense perseverance by my wife has fortunately seen me through the dark times since leaving the forces!

    Not enough is done for the ex-service personnel that do not pay the ultimate price and it is about time more effort was expended to transition ex-service personnel to civilian life.

    6 to 12 months to train a civilian to be a soldier yet 6 minutes to forget them is wrong!

  • Comment number 33.

    I was so touched by this programme,it is about time we all realised that we NEED these men and women and give them the help and respect that certainly deserve at a time when they NEED us. So Mr Cameron, in your posh house, step outside the box for a moment and do what NEEDS to be done.

  • Comment number 34.

    Well done Panorama, an excellent programme!Thank you for highlighting what some ex-forces personnel who slip through the net on returning to civvy street are going through in Britain today,they gave so much of themselves both mentally and physically defending our way of life and guaranteed freedom, surely we as a civilised and compassionate state cannot just abandon them now that their perceived use is done! We owe so much to these highly skilled people they are a national asset and it would be foolish to just throw them on the scrap heap as casualties of their misfortune, they need to be put to the front of the queue for health care and housing and receive training to help them get a job, ahead of all the people who just sneak into the country under a lorry with their hands out stretched!

  • Comment number 35.

    This was a great documentary, which highlights the blights of all the servicemen/women.

    It is so hard to adjust to civvie life when coming out, my hubby is a brilliant person but there has been so many times I could of thrown in the towel and walked away since he came out of the army.

    There seems to be very little support for heroes who decide to "come out" of the services.

    I know that men and women decide to sign up they want to serve their country, but their country fails them when they decide to have a career change, but their previous career has featured deaths, their friends killed.

    It is so sad that all these great guys/girls do not have any support/very little from the government.

    There needs to be changes!!

    Support the forces!

  • Comment number 36.

    I feel that sadly the issues highlighted in the "Forgetten Heroes", are long overdue.The army has a responsibility towards these men who have risked life and limb for their country and should ensure that they are psychologically equipped for life outside the army to prevent family breakdown. The government also has a responsibility to these men with programmes following army discharge to help them adapt to life and provide housing and support towards employment. I felt saddened that these men were just left to fend for themselves risking family breakdown, crime, alchololism, homelessness and mental illness all of which could have been avoided if they had been given the appropriate help and support on discharge. They deserve much better than this. Thank you Panorama for highlighting their plight in an excellent programme.Hopefully you have shamed the army and the government to take action to help these brave servicemenn.

  • Comment number 37.

    I am a director of a charity called Healing Hands Network and we have been established since 1993 in the wake of the Balkan conflict. We have worked in Sarajevo for all of this time , working with victims and survivors of this terible conflict. We have just launched our UK Forces project for returning servicemen and women and tneir families. We have been trying to get this set up for 11 years and at last we have managed it. Our volunteer members will help PTSD sufferers by offering the gentle therapies to try to help this crippling but completely normal condition. We have linked in with some of the forces families associations but if anyone thinks that they would benefit from our services please look at our website and contact our administrator for an application form. All is in complete confidence and fulfills data protection law. www.healinghandsnetwork.org.uk or Sandra hhnadmin@btconnect.com

  • Comment number 38.

    An exellent program. As as ex service man I wathched this very closley with my wife. I have recentley left the Army after 22 yr service. I am very forunate not to be suffering form any combat stress problems although after coming out I found it very hard to adopt to civi street. On leaving the forces you leave behind a Battalion net work of freinds and support especally when depolyed on operations. Once you walk out of those gates you are on your own, or that is how it feels.

  • Comment number 39.

    I am ex army, I struggled for a long time, the loyalty, the respect, the comradeship, this is what the army is about, from the top to the bottom, afraid these things do not exist in civvy street. Its not the job of the M.O.D to help us when we leave, its the obligation of government, we have been fine tuned beyond normal human thinking and actions, if not, most of us would be dead. Therefore when we leave, we come into a different world, a world we are not trained for. I still have the odd lapse every year, but I am a lucky one, I still believe i have purpose, but the problem is, trying to put over that message to civilians, I seek co-ordination, structure, ethics, honesty, and expect, when someone says they will do something that they do it. As i said, i still strongly believe i have purpose, its what keeps me above the mental breakdown line, therefore i have formed my own security company, as yet, no contracts, but they will come, to all ex military, this company has the aim to put us back into the type of routine we are used to with no cop outs, no short cuts and total transparency, as civilian soldiers, because even though we are no longer employed by the M.O.D we are still soldiers

  • Comment number 40.

    I'm disappointed that the Panorama programme failed to highlight the fact that the Veterans Welfare Service has existed since 1948 and is part of the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency which in turn comes under the umbrella of the MOD.There is a network of centres throughout the UK with welfare staff based from Inverness to Southampton.

    All servicemen and women are given contact details on discharge.

  • Comment number 41.

    the people saying this charity, that charity ,was not mentioned are missing one point,these guys are indipendent used to surviving in field environments,the one thing they will not do is go to a charity,the only reason I got involved with the charities is because I have a wonderful 2 brothers and a sister who spent time to get in touch with them,I knew they were there I knew I was heavily depressed and suffering,but I would look at web sites but was to proud to ask for help,I was brought up from the age of 16 to "sort yourself out"

  • Comment number 42.

    My world started falling apart because of the things I saw in the Army, It is made worse by the chronic pain I suffer, I've now been diagnosed with PTSD, General Anxiety Disorder, Depression amongst others, This show was a wake up to those who should be listening, Only snag is most are seduced by Combat Stress being the best for all, well it isn't especially not if my experience of Hollybush House was anything to go by, a 1 week visit that ripped open a lot of old stuff & then walked away in over a year I've never heard from them post visit, Yet my mental health got worse & worse, My family were my rock & yes I'm far far from getting there I'm trying to recognise my triggers & dealing with those I'm ready for & staying the hell away from those I know I can't. New Military Covenent don't make me laugh, we risk our lives for the right to expect a bit of support when the wiring shorts out instead we get a well meaning civvy who don't know anything about the forces trying to help & making things worse. Just look at the figures on the Veterans in Prison website if you doubt the reality of the Ex Forces mental health bombshell that's on it's way for a long time to come.

  • Comment number 43.

    I served 27 years having worked through the ranks to Regimental Sergeant Major before being Commissioned. My wife went off with another guy and since that time I have lost my home, my job, my money and although I have worked all my adult life, I am not entitled to anything!

    I spent 4 months living rough on the streets of Bangkok before returning back to the UK. I also spent a little time walking the streets living rough in the UK before trying to apply for help. Because I am in receipt of a pension, I am not entitled to jobseekers allowance, or housing, nothing! I know I am going to end up back living rough on the streets.

    So you all know, the Royal British Legion does NOT assist former Officers!!! I am completely lost, extremely depressed and contemplating ending it all, I have nothing to live for...

  • Comment number 44.

    Ocean30 wrote:
    Ex officers do not appear to suffer the same post combat problems as other ranks. Is this so? Is it due to them having better support mechanisms or better job prospects?

    My Husband has served 24 years and will soon leave the Military as an Officer. His rank won`t give him any more prospects than a Soldier who left as a Sgt because the sights that have been seen, the trauma that has been suffered, the lack of support and counselling available to all Soldiers regardless of rank have all affected my Husband to a point whereby he`s almost lost everything.
    Would the Govt care, would the Queen care? Do local authorities care? NO. He`s done his job, he served and defended his Queen and a Country that couldn`t give a toss about him.
    I find it extremely sad that it falls on charities and volunteers to help support the Soldiers who find their lives on a downward spiral due to the inadequacies of the Govt and the MOD.
    British Soldiers are nothing more than a number to so many, IF only they could be seen for the brave, conscientious and upstanding people they are and have the support made available to them much sooner or if at all....but I guess that will always be a pipe dream.

  • Comment number 45.

    Well done, Panarama and Colonel Collins, a brilliant programme. I have just finished watching it and I am angry, saddened and broken hearted. Have we not learned the lessons from other military actions over the the years since the first world war. My father was a desert rat and came home from Eygpt on a ship that took weeks. A time to de-stress in essence he said. I remember a vietnam vet saying that you could go from combat in the jungle to main street USA by plane in 24 hours. It was too quick, no time to adjust, hence the rise in affected personnel. We have known about these problems for years and yet we are still having to make programmes to plead their cases. The problems of veterans all over the world are well documented and yet no one in any government seems to care. I was gobsmacked today over plans to wrap a tapistry around the olympic stadium at the cost of 7 million pounds!!!!!! Has the government gone mad!!! 7 million pounds would go a long way to setting up a facility for helping servicemen coping with returning to civvy street and those with stress disorders!!! This are brave men and women, and I for one feel safe knowing they are standing on the preverbial wall!! In return we have a duty to make sure they are well looked after what ever condition they are in when they return from combat. I am so proud of my Dad. He may not have the problems of others but remembering him remember the war and seeing the sadness in his eyes made me sad also and determined that I would always honour servicemen and women. Shame the Ministry of Defence doesn't think the same way!!

  • Comment number 46.

    This programme really moved me and made me ask myself, what can I do to help?

    I totally agree that we should look after our service men and women when they return home. Without question! I can't imagine for one second how difficult it must be for them and their families.

    From a psychological point of view, and I'm no expert, I would like to share a technique that I have recently started using on myself as a cancer patient.

    It is called 'Emotional Freedom Technique' or EFT and more information can be found out about it all over the internet.

    My heart goes out to our Heroes and I pass this information on only as a possible form of help to those who may be interested.

  • Comment number 47.

    I registered for housing with my local council 14 years before i left the army. I was messed about by the worst housing department in the country who stated "we don't know what to do with ex army" !!

    North Lanarkshire Council in Scotland puts the needs and rights of hundreds of Congolese asylum seekers before anyone else!!! They do not care or want to deal with ex squaddies

  • Comment number 48.

    As a Serving Royal Marine myself soon to leave the forces, It is somewhat humbling to see that these issues are being raised. However with relation to the Royal Marine featured on the programme who is struggling to get employment.
    The Question is does society OWE us a favour? My views are society most certainly does not! Respect yes.
    We are all volunteers and know exactly what we’re getting into. In terms of the sheer un-employment of the ex-armed forces it is to question the calibre of the volunteer joining and ask weather if there was no Military would he be able to get a job in the first place? (Managing expectations) The fact of the matter is that the majority of the lower ranks are from a social background that offers very little prospect. Therefore a job in the forces can be seen to be appealing, after all you are not required to think for yourself. You are constantly told what to wear, where too be, when to eat, when to sleep, with the most challenging aspect of military life is to be sure your always five minutes early! Something that in Civilian Street won’t be enough in order to succeed as it requires a great degree of independence.

  • Comment number 49.

    A thoughtful and thought-provoking programme that highlighted the human cost of suffering of war.

  • Comment number 50.

    This program was shocking in what isn't done to help.
    When i wrote to my MP over the Gurkha`s and heard nothing, then when Joanna lumley go something done my MP wrote to me saying how it had worked....that devil never lifted a finger!

    The words i used to my useless MP are the words i will use here...These soldiers fought for us, now we must fight for them.
    Housing should be prioritised for ex forces personal, When we were moving house when i was 17 or 18 we found a council house to move into, but were told that a soldier and his family were to have it, and my dad said at the time the lads earned it, and we found a house around the corner.

    It sickens me to my heart that after doing all this in that hell hole to come back here and get a handshake and a kick up the backside to help you out of the door.

    A line from the Rogue's March.
    "Poor old soldier, poor old soldier if ever i `list as a soldier again the devil will be my Sargent".

    They fought for us, we MUST fight for them.

  • Comment number 51.

    Thank you for a fantastic program. It is extremely difficult to adjust to the civilian life. After 24 years in armed forces it has been so far (9 years) mission impossible. We now live outside of UK and keep relocating every 2 years! Feeling a bit detached from life it's interesting to see we are not the only ones and that there is something being done about it! My husband hardly leaves our rented accommodation..... I did managed to get my husband to our local GP, but he was dismissed for suffering from stress like everybody else, that was 6 years ago... Is there really help? We would love to return back to UK but have no idea what to do! Where to start, how to get a home, job ..... start a life again.

  • Comment number 52.

    an excellent programme for awareness, col Collins is right there are a lot of small charities chipping away at what is going to be a growing problem. We are trying to establish those exact signposts, in the place the servicemen head first. The pub. Leighton buzzard has the first 'Resolution pub hub' an information center for all ex forces AND their families, what ever the problems, housing, marital, financial and of course psychological, working with other charities we have picked up, housed, paid their deposit and 1st months rent and have provided therapists to a number of ex forces since Christmas. The idea is to replicate this scheme across the counties.I'm biased I know but Angela I have to agree with you PTSD Resolution has an 86% success rate fortunately for the guys we've put through their therapists we've had a 100% positive feed back. www.thehare.co.uk

  • Comment number 53.

    The debt this country owes to these brave young men is immeasurable and the government is dragging it's heels to repay it. We should all try to help at a local level by setting up a trauma group in our area,at least we would be actively doing something!
    Incidentally,any prospective employer should look to these guys first, they have a strong work ethic and deserve to find work and support.

  • Comment number 54.

    Guys if you do nothing else check out PTSD RESOLUTION www.ptsdresolution.org or 0845 021 7873 It is the nation wide charity helping EX serving personnel for FREE please please please help your selves and your families check out PTSD RESOLUTION

  • Comment number 55.

    If someone is chatting with you who seems like they might be distressed or suicidal, please remember that you're not responsible for any decision that they make. You can help them by suggesting that it could make all the difference to actually talk to someone about how they're feeling, by suggesting they talk to their GP/family doctor, or to someone who is trained to help. Medical professionals and counsellors will be more equipped to help them deal with the problems that they are experiencing.


    The Samaritans Telephone: 08457 90 90 90 Website: http://www.samaritans.org/index.shtm
    Email: jo@samaritans.co.uk Text: 07725 90 90 90

  • Comment number 56.

    M.O.D Service Personnel & Veterans Agency

    Veterans Welfare Service website

    http://www.veterans-uk.info/welfaresupportcontact.htm

    National HELPLINE : 08001692277

    Amazed that this program failed to mention this organisation?

  • Comment number 57.

    Like others of my generation I did not make an application to join the armed forces,I did not volunteer to join up ! 1957 I was conscripted 'shanghaied'for National Service, shipped off on the troop ship Nevasa to Cyprus, E.O.K.A. terrorist combat / active service. My ongoing paper correspondence with the MoD has been going on from time to time over these past 30 years, to no avail ! regarding my serious eyesight damage caused during my service overseas,exposure to UV radiation / sunlight, supported by a Harley street ophthalmologist,I have needed to have several surgical operations done on my eye's, The Army refuse to acknowledge this nor accept responsibility. I'm now coming to 73,I guess they hope I will give up soon.

  • Comment number 58.

    I seem to remember Sir Winston Churchill in 1946 said something about making this country fit for heroes, We are still waiting,I spent 20 years in khaki serving from NI to Iraq including Lebanon Sierra Leone and 666 .After 20 years and 4 divorces I have finally got help with council accomodation not because i am an ex squaddie but because I have terminal cancer> My thanks and help from successive govts has been to take my pension and disability allowance for a back injury whilst serving andcount it as deductable income from the paltry esa I get, probably ensuring I end my life on the streets. Its too late for me but thanks to panorama maybe future boys will be looked after, I often feel ""i should have let the other guys win" This country does not deserve the Armed Forces it has

  • Comment number 59.

    Well done Colonel Tim Collins for putting P.T.S.D in the lime light as a post traumatic stress disorder sufferer I've been banging on to people how much this is very important our solider's come back from theatre of operations and it seems no one cares and if it wasn't for the likes of Holly bush house combat stress i would probably be dead today but with the right meds and the right therapy of the CBT center in Newcastle Upon Tyne I will be ok one day

  • Comment number 60.

    AS a thought I have had for a long time. It seems the less medals there are at the political end of the cenotaph on Nov 11 the quicker these same people want to throw servicemen into theatre. And take no responsibility for the aftermath

  • Comment number 61.

    This programme could have been written with my husband in mind. He has been suffering PTSD for 25 years!! Once he left the army after 22 years he got worse, he was angry had no time for his family, lived in his own little world. He finally had a breakdown but even then I had to fight to get him the right treatment, Despite a Government Directive saying that Veterans' be given priority treatment this was not happening. After finally seeing a psychiatrist he waited 10 MONTHS for counselling! Combat Stress although coming to visit him twice at home decided he was coping ok and when I wrote to the Army Families Journal refering to PTSD, Combat Stress said they could not find any information on him - falling through the net again! He has waited and waited for help and if it wasn't for me pushing I doubt he would have been helped and quite possibly not be here anymore that's how serious it was. Not once during his time in the army did anyone notice he was ill except his family. At one time he was put on Prozac for depression and then taken off it by the SMO after 4 MONTHS! What good was that?
    He is now getting help but it has turned our world upside down and because and of this both myself and our daughter are also on anti-depressants. The army did not help with resettlement or his illness, shame on them!

  • Comment number 62.

    It is quite clear that in general no-one cares about ex military.This is nothing new (although this latest highlight to the plight of ex servicemen & women may rattle a few cages.
    Some years ago, most, if not all local authorities gave priority housing to ex service people. Unfortunately,in UK, you are only "as good as your last meal" and your contribution is quickly forgotten.
    When I had to resort to dare to ask for assistance with housing, I was told that I had sufficient funds to pay for private rental (because I had been honest enough to declare my capital), while priority for housing was afforded to other groups who had not (and probably would not) contribute ANYTHING to the country in terms of financial or personal contribution.
    My best advice is to not allow our poor policy of genuine gratitude to allow you to become outwardly resentful.Make the best you can from your life following your time in the forces and display more character than those people in authority who promise all and do nothing. I completed 25 yrs service and retired (forcibly) aged 40 in 1987. I never wanted preference over anyone else, just to be treated the same. Unfortunately,I had overlooked one important fact;equality comes to the fore when it is politically correct for it to do so.When as anyone ever seen (or heared) Public petitions on behalf of our forces apart from the campaign to allow the well deserving Ghurkas to settle in the UK. You can bet your life I am angry!

  • Comment number 63.

    well done everyone in this prog, but doesn't it make you sick that the banks have agreed to cut bonus, why thanks because we as soldiers are paying taxes on all fronts that give these bonus to the head of bank while bailing them out when they are in the shit, and what happens to us all our allowances are cut, LOA dropped by the Govn't they give us double OP allowance but take it away with all other cuts!!!

  • Comment number 64.

    If you are in need of support tonight, tomorrow or next week we' offer 24/7 safe anonymous support to serving personnel, veterans and their families in a campaign 'Home Front supported by Help for Heroes and Combat Stress. www.bigwhitewall.com - free support with 24/7 trained counsellors to hand in a community of people like you. Shortly to be funded by the Department of Health but for now we just offer the space for free. Please sign on if you need help.

  • Comment number 65.

    Very good program, its about time people in civvy street and indeed the government were made aware of how ex service personnel are treated and miss-treated. I served in the Army for 27 years joining at 16 years of age. I retired 5 years ago. I feel my qualifications and skills are ingnored by civilian employers. A few months ago I was actually told by a senior Colleague, that no-one in civvy street gives a shit about what I did in the army (Quote). The resettlement course (CTW) at Rothsyth was a waste of time. Finally, since the day a civilian clerk cut up my ID card in front of me, I have received no corespondance from the army whatsoever. Thats the thanks we get for our service.

  • Comment number 66.

    Thank you very much for this panorama broadcast. The show really hit home with me and it was nice to know there were others who don't get on well during fireworks seasons and experienced hyper-vigilance.

  • Comment number 67.

    THE WHOLE STORY IS A SELL OUT BY THE MoD AS CHOCOLATE BOX ATTITUDE TOWARDS THEIR PARANOIA THAT THE "OTHER BOXER" MIGHT LAND A DECENT PUNCH AT THE UNITED KINGDOM...

    LOOK BETWEEN THE LINES!!..

  • Comment number 68.

    Data Protection Act - rubbish! If the British Legion is willing (and able) to offer support to veterans, surely it can't be so difficult to arrange for contact details to be passed on after people leave (a simple tick box on some existing personnel record should do it).

    That way the British Legion could contact all ex-forces personnel after, say, 3 months with a general questionnaire about rehabilitation into civilian life (work, housing, health, relationships etc) to establish what people are doing, if they are coping and if they need help.

    Not only would that provide useful data, it would highlight problem areas and give people the chance to ask for support if needed (either by the British Legion itself or by referral to a partner organisation).

    The British Legion is not some crack-pot organisation - it is well-known and respected by within the armed forces and by the general public. For goodness sake, give them a chance to do what they can (especially since they want to help).

  • Comment number 69.

    The Military Thread that once ran through our society was lost when National Service ended in 1960. (No, this is not a call for the return of National Service.) I'm merely pointing out that, once, everyone in the country knew someone in uniform, be it family or friend of the family. They knew what these ex-service men and women were capable of doing, in regards to employment, after disciplined military service and training. Now, the kids working in Employment Agencies and the Job Centres have not a clue what to do with ex-service people. They have no idea about the flexibility of Service life, the adaptability required of Service people, their ability to organise and improvise in any given situation nor of their, high quality, leadership skills. These are qualities that would be invaluable to any civilian employer. If I were an employer, I would employ an ex-service applicant in preference to a civilian applicant - no question - precisely for that reason. Unfortuately, employers are now blind to these qualities and ex-service personnel and their abilities are left at the back of the queue. Shameful!!
    One last point. The very basic anyone needs, be it ex-service or civilian, is somewhere safe and secure to call their home. Even this simple fact seems beyond our Government. Not just this government but successive governments over the last forty years. The biggest "crime" is that the people of this country put up with it - the majority for their own selfish reasons.
    Thank you Colonel Collins, for highlighting, just some of, these issues. I hope something comes of it but I'm not holding my breath.

  • Comment number 70.

    As an ex-member of the Royal Air Force who after 22 years was medically discharged with mental health problems I can totally relate to all those who took part in this program. No I did not take part in the regular tours of Iraq and Afghanistan but am a Gulf War Veteran from the first conflict from which I was medically evacuated through a field hospital to RAF (H) Wroughton where upon arrival I basically broke down feeling I had failed my comrades. 12 Years after the Gulf I was on a course away from my friends and family and i had a complete breakdown it was at this point i sought help but was told it was just a bit of stress and aggraphobia and to take it easy for a while (no chance of that)but things progressed to get worse and once again I thought i had better seek help for myself and my family's safety as i now had a tendency to quite violent mood swings, which were usually taken out on inanimate objects, my work ethic became first in last out and sleep was down to 3-4 hrs a night. I was put on various forms of medication and given counselling but remained on shift work as the problem was not affecting my work as i was bottling everything up. My superiors knew i was receiving counselling and when this was mentioned in my annual appraisal, a subject i myself had been told not to mention in others whom i had appraised as it would affect their careers yet here it was in mine, then all the bottled up emotion came out when i realised that basically my career was over as was any chance of promotion. I was then removed from shift work. Luckily a post came up where i could work day shift and as usual i was still first in and last away regularly putting in 12hr+ days this was now having a major effect on my family life and things were getting extremely tense. For the first few years of my problems i was still permitted to carry a firearm and act as Guard Commander with access to a great deal of weapons and ammunition. When i mentioned this to my counsellor she was extremely shocked that this had been allowed to happen. finally after about 4 or 5 years on medication and after several medical reviews I was sent for a medical review with a senior military Psychiatrist who decided i should have a medical board to decide on what was to happen to me. The result of the Board was to terminate my service career and basically as soon as the board was over then so was my career. I was put on leave and told not to go back into work except to hand kit in. It then took the RAF nearly 3 months to decide on when i was to leave officially so i was basically in limbo for nearly 6 months unable to apply for jobs as i had no official leaving date. I applied for jobs and attended interviews a luckily found a job where the company were willing to wait for the RAF to get its act together. Because of this the resettlement people took it on them selves to decide i would not require any resettlement courses now or in the 2 yr period post termination (which i was entitled to) so when i didn't fit in in the job i had lined up (after just 3 months) i had lost all entitlement. i took this to my local MP and he took it to the Armed Forces minister but i was basically told tough. Upon finally leaving the service i was appointed a local counsellor from the services welfare and she visited me once and as i had no requirement for help (still bottling it up) after 6 months this service was terminated. So now after being out of the RAF for 3 1/2 years i am still on medication still bottling up problems the friends i made in the service are no longer in contact and having lived the nomadic lifestyle for more than half my lie am still finding it hard to settle. Luckily i have now got a fairly stable job but am still always looking to move on my family are still with me and i live each day as it comes. This program brought it to light that i am not alone in this situation but wonder what support if any will be offered in the future if the RAF is pulled out of the North of Scotland for those of us left behind.

  • Comment number 71.

    Fantastic programme, don’t stop there, keep going! The first civilian I met stole my web site; the 2nd stole my creative ideas; HOW can you survive in civvy street with NO ethics, NO trust, NO honesty. Col Tim Collins DON’T stop now! You have the backing of all British veterans! We are right behind you. So, what's next?

  • Comment number 72.

    Paul Hayllor, Head of Charitable Services, Poppy Scotland.

    Panorama have done an excellent job highlighting the plight that a significant minority of ex-service personnel face after their transition to civilian life. Tim Collins was a very good choice of researcher/presenter as he understands the nature of service life and could empathise with the problems that these 3 men and their familes faced on their return.

    The number of blogs above highlight the issues and identify some of the support needs for our service personnel. For me, the programme did not develop why they "fell through the cracks" as existing systems are pretty comprehensive - maybe that is another programme?

    What is clear though, is that all the charities supporting our ex-service community must make it less confusing and easier to access the support when and where it is needed. The programme did not mention existing MoD provision, or what is available in Scotland, but if an ex-serviceman or woman or dependent is in need North of the Border, SSAFA or Poppy Scotland are the entry points to a very wide and comprehensive support network. If you are in need in Scotland, please contact www.poppyscotland.org.uk or via the Armed Services Advice Project . [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 73.

    I watched forgotton heros lastnite and was very upset when the heros from the Falklands and the Gulf wernt mentioned. I was fumin not a mention of the troops that faught in Falklands and the Gulf war and how they coped with PTSD back in civie street when they got out. There was no help for them heros and id say the most of them ended up livin on the streets and in the gutter on drink drugs or whatever they can get there hands on. My brother had PTSD and he hit the bottle to block his demons.I tried everything in my power to get him help the army didnt want to no he had served his time and was just a number to the army like many more. I lost my brother 16 months ago and im not a very happy person...If the army had of had help for them heros my brother would still be here today. I also want to say were does all the money for ex service men and woman go for it certainly wasnt offerd to the Falklands and the Gulf war heros.

  • Comment number 74.

    There was a fact that was in the show that stood out to me: That this war has been going on longer than the 2nd World War, doesnt that send alarm bells off in anyone's mind? I was pleased this was addressed because there isn't enough known about army life to people who are not involved with it. Why don't the army use the TA as a place for compulsory counselling so that soldiers are in familiar surroundings but are half way back to civillian life and that way they don't just get thrown back into the civilian world expected to pick up like nothing happened. Prisoners get better treatment and if you agree with the war or not, these men and women have broken no law by being in the army.

  • Comment number 75.

    I watched this programme with great interest. I have PTSD and have had this since the Falklands conflict. I was dismissed from the Royal Navy in 1995 after completing 20 years of service. I had been going through hell and was self medicating with alcohol and illicit drugs. I was commiting petty crimes and became an administrative burden. I did not know until five years ago that I had PTSD. I have been diagnosed by 5 different psychologists that I have severe chronic PTSD however the military refuse to accept this. I have lost all pension rights until the age of 60... If I live that long after the abuse I have put my body through.

    At the ripe old age of 51 I am on probation for violence. I am not a violent person but people mis-read hypersensitivity and believe it to be threatening.... I now tend to remain in the confins of my flat...
    I have been homeless but have found that there is help out there... One just has to keep going. I was given CBT for 30 sessions which then went to to be for two and a half years..
    I am so glad this programme has highlighted some of the facts and could relate to each one of them.
    I did not see a great deal but I was affected... These hero's returning then leaving the forces will need so much help... It is an absolute nightmare and there are so many that end up homeless, self medicating and some end up in our prisons for fighting for our beloved country... They need our help, more over the government needs to provide more help.

  • Comment number 76.

    Major Robin Cope (Rtd), Managing Director of British Military Fitness

    I think the programme gave a true reflection of the sorry state of affairs that is today’s society. With over 20,000 individuals leaving the military every year it is surprising that our system is still failing them.

    Serving for your country in the British Army provides individuals with a routine, you then experience situations on tour and only the people that were with you understand what emotions you went through. You experience these emotions with your team, your comrades and then to come back to civilian life can be a harsh reality.

    I know that I myself struggled when I left the army; after all, you are coming from an institutionalised environment where everything is provided for you. I decided to make my own way but again this was without assistance and it can be tough.

    Companies such as Combat Stress are doing a fantastic job at providing support and advice to our troops returning from tour but if the men and women aren’t given information on these charities then how can they help themselves. I have recently been working closely with SSAFA on setting up a mentoring scheme for veterans who are homeless, served time in prison or injured to help them find employment. This scheme is hopefully going live in the spring and will help these individuals re-adjust to civilian life.

    My company British Military Fitness (BMF) is constantly looking at ways that we can work with veterans. We run outdoor exercise classes in parks across the UK and only recruit ex-armed forces physical training instructors. We have employed hundreds of veterans over the 11 years the business has been running and I believe that the company provides these individuals with a sense of teamwork that they are used to in the army. We work with the likes of Crisis to recruit individuals who are homeless and fund individuals to take part in our first level of training, to try to get them back on the right road.

    Ensuring our men and women are ready for war is important, however the move from soldier to a civilian is even more important and we owe it to these individuals because at the end of the day they protected us at war and now it is time for us to protect them.

  • Comment number 77.

    Just watched this programme and am so disgusted by the treatment our ex-servicemen are getting. Refugees, silly little girls who get themselves into trouble, prisoners,and the work-shy, to mention a few, get better treatment. SHAME ON OUR GOVERNMENT who have sent these people out to do the dirty work that most of the country did not want involved in. They went willingly to do their job but we need to give them whatever support is necessary after they arrive back in civvy street.
    HELP OUR SERVICE PERSONNEL AND EX-SERVICE PERSONNEL should be our slogan.

  • Comment number 78.

    Being the wife of an ex-serviceman who left the forces in the 70's but also the relative of a current serviceman - it is nice to see things haven't changed in 30 years. My husband had the same issues about accommodation then as the current guys do today.

    He also suffers from flashbacks to this day and sometimes iwish i could help but as he proud and from an era where guys just got on with it he will not seek advice or help.

    Again like most can you please pass my details on as i would like to help in some way and was most interested in going about the post of volountary welfare officer with the council.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 79.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 80.

    From last nights show its obvious that nothing has changed in the 30 years since Dad was medically discharged and we as a family ended up homeless. I think the problem is that Servicemen are trained to manage themselves and not to ask for help, problem solving is what they are expected to do. Welfare rights orgainisations do exist but they dont have a publicity budget so you'll never see us advertising.
    Accessing the benefits system is a nightmare but if there was more publicity about how you do this and help with all the paperwork and phonecalls then more service personnel would be able to access benefits. As for the complaints about civys accessing the benefits system - its not that its tilted to civys its that they know how to use the system. When you come from the Services where everyone knows their job and does it asap & then go to the DWP where the staff only know what happens in their office & don't know where you get info on the rest of the system its very frustrating.

    On discharge there should be a pack given to everyone with the contact details for all the local housing associations in the area they are resettling in, Help with claiming JSA, then advice on housing & council tax benefits, if medically disacharged a welfare rights civy should talk them through the possiblities of DLA. All of this will take 6 - 12 weeks to process so there should be a base that all those being discharged are located in until they get a home in the area they need to be. Whilst at the base they would be given pointers in electricity gas water bills etc.

    Its the usual all this is common sense but if your returning from a battlefield you have too much going on in your head to cope with the minute details of daily life - As for Fireworks - I wish they were banned all together. It just as well my dads deaf now but he still jumps when they go off. He suffered from PTSD but was never diagnosed but its all there in his behaviour - just a pity my wee brother suffered the fallout worse than me - he doesn't understand why dad hated everyone & everything, thinks it was personal to him.
    Politicians of all stripes owe a duty of care to service personnel and unfortunately all of them have failed miserably.

    The cut backs won't help as councils can't afford to employ welfare rights officers and that means the charties have to pick up the tab AGAIN
    Its a disgrace that the military relies on CHARITY to clear up its mess

  • Comment number 81.

    In Scotland, The Armed Services Advice Project (ASAP) provides advice to the Armed Forces Community including Regular and Reserve forces and their dependants. ASAP is run by the Citizens Advice Bureau service and supported by a group of funders led by Poppyscotland. It supports members of the forces community by providing one contact point for advice on a range of issues, with referrals on to relevant organisations as necessary. We have information on benefits, debt and money advice, housing, work-related problems, consumer issues and relationships.
    Advice is provided through the national helpline on 0845 231 0300 and in five regional centres:
    • Stirling CAB, covering Stirlingshire
    • Motherwell and Wishaw CAB, for the Lanarkshire region
    • Nairn CAB, for the Inverness and Moray region
    • CARF, for Fife and Dundee
    • Renfrewshire CAB, for the Renfrewshire region
    These centres employ Regional Support Officers to offer more specialist advice to members of the forces community. Anyone can also get advice from their local bureau - they often have someone with an interest in forces issues and they share knowledge and experience with the regional centres.
    Armed Services Advice Project Co-ordinator, Claire Williams
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 82.

    As a member of the managerial team and also an ex student of Remount I must just say that all of your support is greatly welcomed. In the last year our success rate has been unfathomable. I have read your comments about the treatment of ex soldiers and I concur with a lot that has been said. As an ex soldier (22 Yrs) Remount has allowed me to deal with what has happened in the past but also given me a very bright future . One that before Remount was very uncertain having felt isolated and deserted by what I would call my Military Extended Family and left alone to deal with what had happened during my operational tours. Please throw your support behind us as Remount really is a solution, not only for those suffering post operational stress but also those leaving the Army after many years service. Once again thank you for your continuing support!

    Gus Goodall
    Remount Charity

  • Comment number 83.

    great program.while watching i could close my eyes and hear my son saying the same things these young guys were saying.he's going through the same truama,my question is what next? please don,t let this be a one off program because these young men/woman need help today.

  • Comment number 84.

    Well it's 24 hr's on, I have been inundated with call's ,e-mails and correspondence from all around the UK and abroad , don't mind saying these last hours have been emotional to say the least, to the still serving members of our armed forces who have been in touch, thankyou,!!! and don't lose the faith ,there are plenty of people in this country who care, as all the interest in the story(and my inbox) demonstrates, My-self ,Chris O'neil and Tony wright from Forces For Good UK ,our Motto is, Deeds Not Word's,(all Veterans and volunteer's) have put our all into the work we have done, and simply because it needed doing, those in the know call it the buddy buddy system, we do it for this reason and this reason only,
    we have served our country,and we serve it still. We believe like many, our armed forces, serving or Veteran are assets to our country and communities, and worth investing in, with ten years worth of , Research,annanlys,Pilot then proving, we have a model to effectivley turn all the issues around, But we Don't pretend to know everything ,and there are many many groups and people out there who do so much, that people just don't know about, we are holding a conference and workshop in 4 week's time, already we have invited many along, but we ask of any community led groups to get in touch either through the BBc or jason@forcesforgood.org. .we are doing this because of the huge response and genuine interest, and plainly, only working together will make this work.
    I hope : the Veterans Charter is adopted by all councils and governing bodies

    All Veterans groups learn to work together as one without Ego or Agenda

    that i might get a desk finally in the council offices, only temporary while we are setting this up,please !!!

    and that the Prime minister will look at our findings after the conference and workshop, I have met with two previous Veterans ministers and that got me no-where. so please give us the time.
    We would hope to make him realise, that, if we don't look after the people whom defend our most far flung borders, how would that make the rest of the country feel.
    A donation from our wealthy bankers could kickstart this with a 1% donation, after which i believe we would be self sufficient and fund ourselves. Just a thought. though we will need initial investment for the cause
    I hope together we can make a difference



    Jason Rathbone,(Mansfield Veterans Support Officer, founder of the Veterans Charter) Ex RA 129 Dragon Bty

  • Comment number 85.


    While there can be no doubt regarding the bravery of our soldiers, Tim Collins conveniently overlooks some very critical issues. First, there seems to be no sense of perspective with regard to the problems faced by this generation when set aside those faced by our fathers and grand fathers. In those days, PTSD was not understood and other than being issued with a suit and a small pay off, most WW2/Korean War/ Falklands War soldiers had to return to their previous lives having suffered equal amounts of stress and loss. Indeed, many of them will have suffered far greater privations, yet we heard little of their complaints and expectations, particularly when set aside the current and growing culture of entitlement.

    While I am not suggesting that the return to civilian life in earlier generations was without its troubles and did not impact upon families and relationships, I do believe that those soldiers showed "true grit" and got on with it. As the program described, in today's society, there is a massive safety net designed to support our troops but many of them choose not to avail themselves of this support. Its very easy to blame the government but "You can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink!

    So where has the MoD/Govt failed? Examples of a soldier leaving a combat zone and arriving at RAF Brize Norton day's before discharge appear as a disgrace - but the detail was not challenged or investigated. Either that, or our documentary maker has carefully chosen to overlook some of the detail to make the story more compelling.

    On a similar theme, while the statistics identify 4% of servicemen encountering troubles when they return to civilian life - that does mean that 96% of serviceman do OK - a pretty good result. Given that a service veteran is classified as anyone who has served anytime in the armed forces, these figures include those discharged for disciplinary matters, those who bought themselves out, those who went AWOL etc. Therefore, the 4% figure is certainly misleading and the MoD deserves credit for the effective handling of such a large pool of personnel entering and leaving the services.

    Finally, all the soldiers in the film came across as intelligent and well adjusted individuals, no doubt most of them will attribute many of those qualities to their time in the Army. Given that the average intake soldier has a reading age of 12 - it is little wonder that some will go awry - no different from other sections of society. Who is to say that some of these characters would not have ended up on the street if they had not joined the Army?

    Ultimately, Tim Collins articulates the worst tenets of an "I'm entitled society" and Panorama could stand accused of sensationalising an issue that merely reflects the burgeoning "nanny state" as extolled and encouraged by recent governments.

    By the way, no wonder our soldiers on the front line are without kit - there seemed to be plenty of Kevlar Helmets and other soldiering equipment sitting stored in ex-soldiers flats! How can that be?

  • Comment number 86.

    I was just lookin at other peoples comments and i do hope our troops servin in Afgan get counciling when they return home. And back to the Falklands and the Gulf war them troops got nothin only a life sentence of PTSD.....sleepin rough....drink....drugs.....Not only did they suffer there familys sufferd to and im sure theres not many of the Falklands heros alive and well today. The MOD make me mad and sick.Maybe Panorama would like to do a documentary on the Falklands and gulf war heros that would be very interesting!!

  • Comment number 87.

    As an ex serviceman, (Speaking purely of his own accord and with no political ties)

    I found myself homeless for more than thirty years, I was given help but I needed to ask for it.

    Having asked it was not lacking!

    I watched your program tonight and to be frank; I was astounded and enraged by the incorrect information given.

    I joined the Royal Navy at fifteen and half as Boy Service in 1969.
    Later I served on Submarines and came out of the service at the end of 1975.
    Nearly a year and a half after leaving the service I suffered a nervous breakdown but I can assure you that this had nothing to do with my time spent in the forces.
    It was to due to my depression that I become homeless just as anyone in Civilian Street could have found themselves in the same position; a depression that could have affected any member of the public at any given time.

    I ended up in France and vagabonded into Italy living as a tramp until nine years ago.

    Having developed Parkinson's and in need of medical treatment I reluctantly returned to the UK,
    I had been without a passport for since 1983 and was unable to obtain or access any medical treatment.
    I have never believed that neither the British Government nor the Royal Navy owed me a penny, in fact that is one of the reasons I never returned in all those years.

    Regarding your program, firstly, I ask myself why Colonel Tim Collins sustains that there are 1100 ex service men living rough in and around the Cenotaph, yet feels the need and takes an ex -homeless Veteran to sleep outside in Brighton to regain the feeling of living on the streets.
    Perhaps he got his figures wrong and couldn't find an ex service man or women in London?

    Would it not have been more productive had he gathered those (Circa) 1100 men that he claims sleep rough and slept with them at the Cenotaph?
    Perhaps massing an enormous tent to underline his proof and facts?

    Of course, even if he could have produced only 100 in front of the houses of Parliament this would have sufficed.

    In the Westminster area of London where various charity organisations exist, (I E: St Martin’s in the Field, The Passage, and even the local police force and community workers) all know that if they encounter an ex service man or woman in crisis all they have to do is direct them to Veterans Aid,
    40 Buckingham Palace Road London.

    Here, they will be not only given accommodation but their needs whatever they may be will be taken care of.
    Their motto is (Veterans helping Veterans) and they don't need to exaggerate figures to boost newspaper articles or television audiences.
    They give hand ups and not hand outs.

    Veterans Aid has a track record of over 75 years; its hostel in Stepney accommodates over 63 men daily and if there is not a place available they will ensure that the person seeking help is not left to sleep on the street that night.
    They will then supply that person with the tools to rebuild his or hers life; as they did with me.

    In fact, they don't just help the homeless, they help all men and women that have served in the forces and are in crisis, no matter what their problem may be and regardless of if they have spent only one day in the forces or served their full time.

    Most service men and women move back into Civvy Street without any problems or traumas.

    I lived in the Veterans Hostel and can confirm that most of the men that I met where moved on to new accommodation, families united and if the need be drug and alcohol rehabilitation was ensured.
    Very few, if any had problems related to their time spent in the forces they, just like any other human being had something go wrong in their lives and where lucky to have served in the forces and be afforded the help they received.

    Once a man or women comes in contact with Veterans Aid the umbilical cord is never cut, they become your second family, if not your first.
    Whilst it's true that some will need help further down the line; exaggerating figures only leads to mucking the waters.

    If Colonel Tim Collins is aware of ex service men or women in crisis that are sleeping on the streets of London or any other part of the UK he should escort them to Veterans Aid where they will be given the real help that they need.
    Veterans Aid is an organisation in the front line combating and helping “Ex Service men and women who are in crisis.
    They are able to give the tools with which to rebuild their lives and not false hopes and promises. Which may I permit myself to say, he is well aware of.

    I arrived in London on January 17th 2009, suffering with Parkinson's and depression.
    I had come on a wind and a prayer and had no idea what Veterans Aid would or could be able to offer me.
    They gave me hope; by 1700 on that same day after arriving at 1200 I was bedded in a warm room in their hostel in Stepney.
    Through the coming months and over a year I was given the support and help I needed to rebuild my journey.
    A true family pulls together when one of their members is down and this is what Veterans Aid did for me, and may I humbly say, for so many others of whom I can testify for.
    Not false promises or sensationalism; but true facts.

    I now live independently. Why?
    Because Veterans Aid not only supplied me the tools to do so but also found me a secure tenancy, thus keeping their promise ,
    ”You will never be homeless again".

    As a Veteran I was extremely hurt and outraged by your program and the false statements that bump up false figures to gain an audience.

  • Comment number 88.

    Re NCN Londons Comments (87) - Great to see some common sense being applied to this issue rather than the sensationalism offered by Col Tim Collins and the BBC.

    By putting this issue into perspective, it is clear that there is help out there - the guys just need to ask for it.

  • Comment number 89.

    I am disapointed that the many thousands of Veterans helped by the Veterans Welfare Service have not used the blog to highlight that help. Or are the good news stories removed?


  • Comment number 90.

    I found the programme very disappointing and biased. In their desire to point out how little help is available it seems they completely ignored a substantial amount of help that IS available to Veterans through the Veterans Welfare Service.

    The Veterans Welfare Service has existed since 1948 to help all ex forces personnel and their families. There are Welfare Managers covering all parts of the UK whom ex service personnel can contact for advice on any problem they may have following their discharge from the armed forces. Contact details for the Veterans Welfare Service are provided to all personnel when they are discharged. Furthermore, all personnel who are medically discharged are contacted on an individual basis by the Welfare Service so they know exactly who to contact if problems arise.

    Over the years the Veterans Welfare Service must have helped hundreds of thousands of ex service men and women to navigate their way through a variety of problems encountered, and yet Panorama have either not done their reseach thoroughly or have just chosen to ignore the existence of this brilliant organisation.

  • Comment number 91.

    Great programme, raising public awareness. Now, thoughts processed, what are the societal implications of National Veterans Charter? Well, it is not difficult to work out is it Government Ministers?
    You only need look at the figures (if they are correct) of War Veterans who are homeless on the streets, 1 in 6 = approx 36,000
    or in Her Majesty's Prisons, 1 in 10 = 8,500 and rising
    then those in Military Correction Units for whom we do not have the figures, but suffice to say, many suffer from PTSD, and lest we forget the souls of those who suicide was their only escape of the pain of reality.
    If we look at the economic implications, then we are moving into another territory, one that it would appear to be all about, so, bringing it back to respect, compassion, caring and making sure the Veterans have the rehabilitation they need and deserve to function again in society, those that have, after all, laid down their lives for our Country.
    I hope and pray this Charter will go National and every mountain that stands in the way be removed, in order for it to do so.
    I believe this will be be the biggest change our Society has ever seen, and not before time, bring it on.

  • Comment number 92.

    This was a very poor low quality biased programme lacking in fact and heavy in falsehoods. Col Tim Collins has come a long way downhill since his famous speech if this is the tripe he is associating himself with. There is a huge amount of help available to ex-serviceman and women whether they are disabled or able. It seems the internet is a foreign land to ex-servicemen and women as a few clicks and there are all sorts of devoted caring people and organisations waiting to help. All you have to do is want the help and be brave enough to ask. I would strongly suggest the Veterans Welfare Service. It has only been on the go since 1948!!!!!.
    P.S. All discharged servicemen and women are given loads of info about these type of things. Perhaps the fact that the average reading age of a British squaddie is that of an 11 year old( painful and shameful but quite simply a fact ) means that the info has to be given to them in a different way.Maybe an educational programme of the 3 R's when soldiers are serving would be beneficial to one and all. The M.O.D. ain't always the baddie.

  • Comment number 93.

    @92. "the average reading age of a British squaddie is that of an 11 year old( painful and shameful but quite simply a fact)"

    Where are your "facts" to support this scurrilous statement? Granted, there may be a proportion with limited literacy but to say "the average reading age of a British squaddie is that of an 11 year old" is very wide of the mark. The majority of Service personnel, I have had contact with, were of above average intelligence and educated to, at least, average standards. I question your motive for posting such a statement!
    The majority of posts on the thread seem to be supportive of the programme and of Col. Collin's involvement but the later posts denigrate his contribution. Why? As far as I could see, he was merely highlighting the fact, there were ex-service personnel - now in civvy street - in need of help and having difficulty finding it. There is no question that the help is there, the problem would appear to be getting it to where it is most needed. To be so negative and spiteful towards someone who is trying to help other people in need, shows an unwarrented meanness of character.
    Perhaps better communication between the welfare services would be a good starting point. Obviously there is a degree of communication already. Equally, obviously, there are people still "falling between the cracks" because that communication is still not good enough.

  • Comment number 94.

    Some very interesting comments re the programme. I am a volunteer caseworker with Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association Forces Help and I see ex-Service individuals who are in the state they are in because of their Service experiences, and also those who cannot blame their Service experiences for the state they find themselves in. However, we are not judgmental. We are faced with an individual who needs help and if it is a genuine need, we will do our best to help.

    Tim Collins makes an excellent point when he states that there appears to be no co-ordination between most of the Service charities. I discovered this when I spoke to other volunteers from other Service charities and, if I knew how to contact Tim, I would certainly offer my services in order to try and get some co-ordination.

  • Comment number 95.

    as an ex ni vet from the 70's and 80's the problem is far deeper Col Collins has hit the tip of the ice on everset as there are still many vets form ww2 to afgan with an underlying problem who do need help,but many sit in the RBL and are to proud of there cap badge to talk....old soldiers never die they go to hevan and regroup.

  • Comment number 96.

    If ethnic minorities can get positive discrimination(preferential treatment)in the jobs market then why not ex-servicemen who have put their lives on the line for this country. Discrimination by the police recruiters against ex-servicemen in favour of ethnic minorities is a national disgrace. I have nothing against ethnic minorities but I would like to see our brave and highly skilled ex-servicemen and women given a fair chance in the jobs market and also with housing.

  • Comment number 97.

    Since leaving the lower ranks of the RAF(below corporal level) I have completed a university degree in molecular science. I was rejected by UCAS three times even though they accept child murderers drug dealers and baby killers but not me an ex serviceman. I did my degree with the Open University while at the same time caring for my late mother who had pancreatic cancer.I have 47 letters after my name for science and engineering but have been out of work for nearly five years because of discrimination against ex-servicemen. When one blog said that servicemen had an average reading age of 11 he must have meant the generals and air marshals and admirals.

  • Comment number 98.

    I was 9 years in royal engineers and received a medical discharge for epilepsy,i did two years in N.I, when I left,was given a bottle of pills and that was it ,not even any help to find work or a place to live,I was forced too move to london where within one week ,because I homeless had all my papers stolen along with discharge papers,passport and that bit of tin they call a medal! a lot of good that did me.I am now living in holland where where I am treated better here than if I was living in England a place fought for

 

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