Wales

Newport soldier says employers 'discriminate' because of PTSD

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Media captionAnthony Lock believes employers think he will be on the sick all of the time

A former soldier injured in two blasts in Afghanistan believes employers are discriminating against him because of his post-traumatic stress disorder.

Anthony Lock, 37, a former corporal in the Royal Welsh, also criticised Jobcentre staff for not being aware of their own scheme to support veterans.

Mr Lock, from Newport, is unemployed despite a citation for "exemplary leadership and bravery" and submitting "hundreds" of job applications.

The UK government has apologised.

Mr Lock said: "No-one will employ me because I have post-traumatic stress disorder.

"That's how I feel, it's discrimination - it's always when I have to tell them why I've got a six or seven year gap off work, and that's when it goes dead.

"So it's either because I've got PTSD, mental health issues or I've had a number of injuries and they think I'm going to be on the sick all the time."

Image copyright Anthony Lock
Image caption Mr Lock said he felt unable to leave the house for 10 years

On one trip to a Jobcentre, Mr Lock said staff had no knowledge of the armed forces champions scheme, aimed at helping veterans into work, and told him to contact the Salvation Army.

A UK government spokesman said: "We deeply value the service of our armed forces and apologise to Mr Lock if he feels his visit to the Jobcentre fell below his expectations.

"Every Jobcentre has an armed forces champion and if he'd like to make contact with us again, then we'd be happy to speak to him about the support we can provide."

Mr Lock was injured twice in six weeks by two separate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan in 2009, resulting in "serious life-changing injuries" including a broken neck and ruptured spleen.

He feels he has been let down by the Army, UK government and employers, saying: "The Army cannot even find the English and maths qualifications I gained while serving."

His mental health declined in the years after leaving the Army and he said he was close to suicide when he decided to write a book about his experiences.

Image copyright Anthony Lock
Image caption Mr Lock said he was the first British soldier to be operated on aboard a helicopter over Afghanistan
Image copyright Anthony Lock
Image caption Anthony Lock was thrown 15m after his tank hit an IED in June 2009

He said: "I was looking at the view, and there was a massive drop in front of me, and I thought 'I can do this now, I can end my suffering' - and something just stopped me.

"It was almost like somebody grabbed me from the back, I'd like to believe it was one of the boys who passed away."

He wants more employers to realise PTSD is not a barrier to giving someone a job and added: "We're not bad people, a lot of us come with some really, really good skills that can help your business."

Newport East MP Jessica Morden raised Mr Lock's story in the House of Commons during an armed forces debate, saying there was "a lack of support for veterans like Anthony" and too little oversight of the Jobcentre.

She added: "We need to do far more with our veterans to help them into employment, to ease that transition into civilian life."

The Army said it does not issue qualifications gained while in service, as this is done by an awarding body.

It added that the awarding body should be contacted directly for a replacement.

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