Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Battle stress: The hidden price of the Falklands conflict

As the the 30th anniversary of the start of the war is marked, Paratrooper Les Standish remembers the horror more than ever.Staring into the eyes of his enemy, Paratrooper Les Standish saw something that still makes his blood run cold three decades on. “It was the look of fear and I’ll never forget it,” he says quietly, the memory as raw now as it was in 1982. “The guy knew he was going to die, and that I was going to kill him. It has haunted me ever since.” Harrowing scenes that Les, then 21, saw during the Falklands War were so devastating the 2 Para veteran has never been able to get them out of his mind. Nightmares, flashbacks and never-ending turmoil sent him spiralling into a deep depression that has continued long after Argentina surrendered on June 14, 1982. As the two countries yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of the start of the conflict, Les remembers the horror more than ever – and he is far from alone. During the two-month war 255 British troops were killed. But that figure has been eclipsed by the number of Falklands veterans who have committed suicide – currently around 300, according to the South Atlantic Medal Association. Ten years after the conflict, Les, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. And he warns that Britain is now a “ticking timebomb” as veterans of recent wars face up to the same demons. Now 51, he says: “PTSD has existed since the First World War but is still not recognised by the Government. "Veterans don’t get the help they need. Now we’ve got Iraq one and two, Bosnia and Afghanistan. “If the Falklands statistics are anything to go by, in the next five or 10 years there will be a suicide epidemic. “It’s a ticking timebomb. Thankfully, I got help and I learnt how to cope. But every bit of help I’ve had has come from charities – the Government does nothing.”Read more HERE