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Body Talk - 6th April 2010

My guest this evening was Paul Clark, who served over 20 years in the RAF, and was talking tonight about the difficulties that ex-servicemen face as they leave the forces and return to civilian life.

During his time in the RAF he felt as though his job was at times that of a social worker. A lot of the men join at 17 or 18, so it's a bit like being their father and mother. The life is very structured so there is no need to fend for yourself. Even when married they are given married quarters and can find themselves having to move every 2 years or so, so there isn't what we would recognise as a stable home life. There is a resettlement programme but it isn't compulsory, so many men refuse it because of pride and not wanting to let the side down.

The other difficulty that can happen is the onset of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, particularly if they have experienced being in a war zone. Paul recounted a story of one man who had to fish dead bodies out of the sea during the Falklands war. His partner said that he has been having flash backs ever since, and often goes into a "black hole". many ex-servicemen from war zones have similar stories to tell. The authorities need to act quicker and to make more help availablke for these brave men.

One of the unfortunate things about PTSD is its association with alcoholism and drug abuse. Almost one prisoner in ten is ex forces. More veterans of the Falklands have killed themselves since the conflict ended than died in the war.

With disturbing facts like these it is time to take a fresh look at how these men can get get help. There are organisations such as SSAFA Forces Help Office, British Legion and Combat Stress, but they need to be more high profile. If you need any further information it is available on their websites or contact me at Phoenix.

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