NATO troops roll into Kosovo.
NATO troops roll into Kosovo.

Inquest to be held for veteran found dead months after losing PTSD support

NATO troops roll into Kosovo.
NATO troops roll into Kosovo.

An inquest is to be held into the death of a Kosovo veteran who was found dead in woodland three months after losing his support for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Alan Forcer was discovered in Stockton-on-Tees on 21 May 2020 after being reported missing by his ex-wife.

The 40-year-old joined the Army at 16, serving in Northern Ireland with the Scots Guards and in Kosovo with the Irish Guards in 1998.

Five months into his tour, he returned home on R&R (rest and recuperation) and had to be seen by a GP due to the effect his experiences in Kosovo were having on his mental health.

He was deemed not medically fit to return to complete the second part of his tour, and was later attached to the Household Cavalry in Knightsbridge, where he remained until his discharge in 2000.

In 2017, Mr Forcer, from Hartlepool, contacted the charity Combat Stress for help with his mental health and was diagnosed with PTSD.

He was referred to the NHS Veterans Mental Health Service in 2019 through TILS (Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service) after a deterioration in his mental health – but the referral was refused as he was receiving care and treatment from Combat Stress.

In February 2020, Mr Forcer was told by Combat Stress that they could no longer support him due to funding issues and a service redesign.

He was referred again to TILS, but an assessment concluded he did not require support either for his anger management or PTSD.

In March 2020 the country went into the first COVID-19 lockdown, and the gym sessions Mr Forcer used to manage his PTSD were closed.

Due to the withdrawal of services from Combat Stress, he was left without a CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) and support with his mental health.

On 20 May, Mr Forcer did not return home after going fishing, and was reported missing to Cleveland Police by his ex-wife Claire Lilly. He was found hanging in woodland the next day.

The inquest into Mr Forcer's death will explore his discharge from Combat Stress and the referral made to the NHS Veterans' Service.

Gemma Vine, a specialist inquest solicitor at Ison Harrison solicitors, said: "Alan's family want his inquest to raise awareness of a number of issues including the availability of access to mental health support for Armed Forces veterans who suffer trauma during service.

"Also, to highlight the need for a more robust missing persons protocol put in place by all police forces in the UK.

"We want to ensure the various factors that are at play when a veteran takes their own life are fully considered and that this information is fed into the Government's study The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health (NCISH) suicide in former service personnel of the UK Armed Forces.

"Without this information, there will not be sufficient evidence to identify trends and needs to help prevent future deaths."

The inquest is due to be held at Teesside Magistrates' Court from 4-5 October.

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