Ipswich: Plea for ex-servicemen not to “suffer in silence” following the death of Falklands hero who never got over the war

War hero Michael Wrather who never got over the horrors he saw in the Falklands.

War hero Michael Wrather who never got over the horrors he saw in the Falklands. - Credit: Archant

A military support group has urged servicemen and women haunted by their experiences of war to seek help rather than “suffer in silence”.

It comes following the death of an Ipswich man, who “never got over” the horrors he endured while fighting in the Falklands War.

Michael Wrather’s father told The Star last week how his son was emotionally scarred by his time serving with the Navy as a teenager.

The 49-year-old died after suffering fatal injuries when his car hit a tree in Congreve Road, Ipswich on June 17.

His father Murray said he had not spoken about his experiences during the Falklands campaign, when his ship had come under fire when he was aged just 17, until just days before the accident.

Representatives from military organisations told The Star anyone haunted by their experiences of war or troubled by the things they had seen or done while serving need not suffer alone.

Mike Ivatt, a spokesman for SSAFA which offers lifelong support for service personnel and their families, said it often took years for those struggling with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to seek help.

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“It’s a long, gradual curve that people go on,” he said. “They might try to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs and that doesn’t help with their relationships. There are then anger management issues and people can lose their jobs and it can be a really steep decline.

“The early intervention for PTSD is really important, before people find themselves in too much of a bad situation.

“People often don’t talk about it and quite often when they come back from operational service, particularly when they have left the services, don’t want to talk about it because their friends and family weren’t there and don’t understand them, which is why military charities are so good because we understand what they have gone through. “I don’t think we will truly know the scale of mental health consequences of service because they don’t often come forward.” Mr Ivatt said that as well as SSAFA, people could contact Combat Stress, talk to Help for Heroes or get in touch with the Royal British Legion, no matter how long ago they left the forces.

A former Naval officer in his 70s from Ipswich, who asked not to be named, said that it wasn’t until later in life when he fell ill and began experiencing “very vivid and terrible” nightmares about his experiences in action that he sought help.

He said: “I was in the Royal Navy, I did 25 years service in Borneo and was also in the Falklands. Any ex-servicemen that thinks they have a problem should go firstly to their GP, if not go online and get in touch with Combat Stress.

“There wasn’t the widespread support system back in the 1980s that there is now.”