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Taro Naw: AWOL family takes legal action against MOD

The family of a soldier from north Wales is taking legal action against the Ministry of Defence (MOD) for failing, they say, to care of their son after he returned from Iraq.


Despite numerous promises last autumn by the army that they would respond to the family's concerns and those of his GP, the family maintain that very little has changed.


They have now joined with other families of soldiers who are taking action against the MOD. Taro Naw (Tuesday 3 April, BBC Wales on S4C) investigates the situation.


The soldier in question is one of more than 3,000 who have gone absent without leave (AWOL) since the Iraq war began and many of the families believe that the army did not take the matter seriously enough.


Although he, along with other soldiers who have gone AWOL or are in hiding in north Wales, spoke to Taro Naw, their words are repeated by actors because they are worried about an adverse reaction by the army should their identities be known.


The soldier tells the programme of recurring nightmares and the refusal of the army to believe him. His family experienced his extreme mood swings and believed he was suicidal. But when he was eventually persuaded to return to barracks he said he was bullied and ridiculed.


He was subsequently examined by a leading consultant psychiatrist in the field of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dr Dafydd Alun Jones.


He tells Taro Naw that there was no doubt the soldier concerned was seriously ill but he was typical of many who had returned from Iraq who he had examined recently.


"After every campaign a pattern emerges. They come back after the first time and run away, they can't go back and they cannot settle. The army is not like Social Services, it's the military and they have different attitudes," explains Dr Jones.


The family's lawyer, Mark McGee, is a specialist in military law in Manchester and represents a large number of military families.


"I've never ever come across an ex-serviceman suffering from a psychiatric disorder who wanted to get out as a quick fix," says Mark.


"The reason they do not want to stay is they're too ill and can't cope. Why? Because of the experience they have endured in the army through no fault of their own. They require help, recognition and treatment."


Another soldier talks anonymously of his harrowing experiences in the army.


"You join at 16, they take the bits they don't want and turn you into a machine and when you break down they throw you out on the street."


Responding on behalf of the MOD, Air Commodore Dr Paul Evans, their Director of Health, says that he cannot comment on an individual case but that they did take the matter seriously and had multi-disciplinary teams in physical and mental health who dealt with such matters.


"We do what we can. We mustn't forget that it is a debilitating disease, but treatable. We must therefore identify the condition early and offer the treatment that the military is capable of providing."


Taro 9, Tuesday 3 April 2007, 8.25pm, BBC Wales on S4C








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Category: Wales
Date: 03.04.2007
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