South East Wales

UK failing wounded troops, say Welsh soldier's parents

Pte Richard Hunt
Image caption Richard Hunt was the 200th member of UK forces to die in Afghanistan

The UK has been accused by a soldier's parents of "failing miserably" to help injured and traumatised troops recover.

Hazel Hunt spoke after the inquest on her son, Richard Hunt, the 200th member of British forces in Afghanistan after he was fatally wounded in August 2009.

Pte Hunt, 21, from Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, died at Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, two days after being airlifted back to the UK.

Mrs Hunt said soldiers "need an awful lot more help than they are getting."

Pte Hunt suffered "unsurvivable injuries" in the blast, but his colleagues managed to drag him from the personnel carrier.

He died with his family at his bedside.

Speaking with his father Phillip outside the inquest at Birmingham Coroners' Court, Mrs Hunt said: "As far as we are concerned we have lost Richard, which is the worst thing that can happen to any parent.

"But there are those who are coming back severely injured and they need an awful lot more help than they are getting.

"These boys and girls are taught to be resilient and not to rely on anybody so when they come out of the armed forces they are left to wallow on their own. It's a case of sink or swim, and a lot are sinking.

"It all needs to be much better organised and they shouldn't have to cope on their own."

Mrs Hunt, who wears her son's dogtag which she turned into a pendant, said UK troops needed a better system, along the lines of the one used in the USA.

"Once you are on that list or conveyor belt you don't just drop off the end once you leave the armed forces," she explained.

"You need that help and it should be ongoing as long as it is required.

"Considering all the conditions and pay that go with the job, it's the least they deserve and at the moment it's failing miserably."

Mrs Hunt questioned whether the Afghanistan conflict was "a necessary war", adding: "A lot of people don't know why we are out there."

Hidden bomb

The inquest heard that Pte Hunt was driving one of the Warriors, a task he disliked but did without complaining, towards Musa Qala, Helmand, when it hit an improvised explosive device (IED).

His Warrior was following 15 other vehicles in established tracks to reduce the risk of hitting a hidden bomb.

Despite being repeatedly driven over by the convoy ahead of him, the device detonated as Pte Hunt negotiated a steep river bank, ripping out the underside of the armoured personnel carrier.

It is thought it may have been a mine left over from when the Russians invaded Afghanistan.

Army medics rushed to save the him but by the time he had been repatriated his condition deteriorated and he died from a massive brain injury.

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