Combat Stress: How Do They Save Veterans Lives?

The UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health, Combat Stress, invited the public along to hear about the work they do and the...

The UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health, hosted the first ever ‘Coffee, Cake and Combat Stress’ event, at St Thomas’ Church, in Salisbury.

For almost a century, the charity has helped former servicemen and women deal with trauma-related mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Combat Stress invited the public along to hear about the work they do and the difference they can make in a veterans’ life.

Forces Radio BFBS presenter, Adam Powney, attended the event and spoke with Peter Butterworth, the South Regional Fundraiser.

Pictured: David Coomber

To help them raise awareness, the charity was joined by Royal Navy veteran and father of two, David Coomber.

David served in the Royal Navy for 11 years from 1979 to 1990. He was just 19 years old when he went to war on HMS Intrepid during the Falklands conflict in 1989.

“We were in ‘Bomb Alley’ getting air raids constantly – I couldn’t sleep for three days”

After leaving the Navy, David became a bus driver, got married and became a Father.

It wasn’t until 20 years after the conflict in the Falkland Islands that David’s mental health problems began to surface.

“All of a sudden I started crying, having flashbacks and nightmares. I didn’t understand what was going on”

He took a two-week residential course at Tyrwhitt House, Combat Stress' specialist centre in Leatherhead, Surrey.

Later, he took a six-week residential intensive treatment programme for PTSD. Today he receives support from the charities Peer Support Service in Portsmouth.

Pictures: Combat Stress

One member of the public that attended the event was veteran Barry De Morgan, who served 15 years in the British Army and is a big supporter of Combat Stress.

“You don’t see the wound, it is internal, within the mind and this in some ways is more difficult to combat. Those people who have that problem, need to have great deal of support”

As well as David Coomber, a team from the Combat Stress were available to speak to, including the Lead Occupational Therapist Jolande Du Preez.

“I think the most important bit is to help veterans’ to just ask for support. Actually picking up the phone is the most difficult part of their journey”

There is an emphasis on working with the veteran within their own community. The charity has 15 Occupational Therapists, working within communities, across the whole of the UK.

This localised treatment focuses on these questions:

  • What do they want their lives to look like?
  • What roles are important to them?
  • What type of jobs do they want to do?
  • What interests do they have?
  • What would they like their day-to-day to look like?

It’s about giving veterans the skills to further their treatment and use in their day-to-day life.

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