Suffolk Military Cross winner's anger at MoD over treatment of PTSD war veterans
PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 April 2016
Today decorated war hero Trevor Coult fights his battles with a different kind of courage.
Combat no longer involves the Iraq and Afghanistan veteran putting himself in mortal danger.
It now reflects the 41-year-old’s daily struggle with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The ex-Royal Irish Regiment Colour Sergeant, who lives in the Woodbridge area with his wife and five-year-old son, served his country for almost 20 years. He was awarded the Military Cross for risking his own life to protect comrades in Iraq.
But he feels he, and many others like him, are being treated shamefully by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Mr Coult is scathing in his condemnation over the help those with PTSD receive.
Mentally fragile, they return to civilian life haunted by flashbacks, frayed nerves and financial pressures.
For a few it is too much and they take their own lives. Others end up homeless or in prison. Relationships break down. Drugs or alcohol become a source of self-medicating comfort.
Mr Coult believes the MoD casts off many veterans too cheaply by giving them a few thousand pounds as an interim payment, with a proviso their cases will be reviewed in two years.
Unable to live off £6,000, the men and women are forced to take jobs despite being unwell, which Mr Coult says precludes them from seeking further compensation.
“I’m so angry with the way the MoD has treated, and continues to treat, ex-service personnel. It’s shocking in my opinion.
“You try to get help. They send you home from work for a year. But because you are now classed as PTSD you are now on a mental health break.
“You get a medical discharge. You have just lost your career. You have left a job. It’s all you know.
“Whether it is severe or not severe PTSD, everyone has got £6,000 to survive two years.
“The thing that annoys me is the MoD has a tariff and it will only ever pay you £6,000. But it gives it to you in a way where you can’t take it to court as it says it is an interim payment and it will look at it (again) in two years.
“An interim payment means you can’t contest it for two years, but as far as I know no-one has gone back and the MoD has said ‘yes we have got to pay you £10,000’.”
Mr Coult said some lose their homes on military bases and have to find alternative accommodation.
“You are forced on to the social housing list. You have six months to look for a house. You are forced to rent privately which is your whole pension gone straightaway.
“It’s like it is playing a game with our mental health and seeing how long it (the £6,000) will last.
“Whenever someone gets a job it is as if they say ‘that’s it – we have got them’.
“You have got the MoD saying ‘we are not paying you compensation’. I have spoken to eight people that has happened to.”
Mr Coult left the army in February last year. He said he still has not received his war pension despite phone calls.
“I got sent home in 2014. I knew I was leaving the army around July/August 2014. I phoned up a couple of days ago and they said we are just waiting on a decision.
“I phoned in February, January, December, last November and they were waiting on a decision.
“I believe the MoD doesn’t treat people well. It’s a shame.
“I’m not alone. There’s thousands of soldiers like that. They have been through the mill. I take it very personally.
“Over the past few years I’ve lost six ex-colleagues who have taken their own lives.
“It is hard. You have to keep positive. You think to yourself ‘I hope this doesn’t get as bad as it has got for him’.”
“The thing which veterans find annoying, frustrating, and they get angry and bitter towards is the MoD does not seem to want to take ownership one bit.”
The MoD said it could not comment on individual cases.
However, a spokeswoman said: “The Government is absolutely committed to the mental health of our Armed Forces and veterans.
“We provide a wide range of support both during and after military service. It is vital that those injured by service receive the compensation they deserve, which is why the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme has made around 32,000 awards and paid over £600million since 2005.
“Our aim is to make a final award as early as possible and in the case of mental health disorders, this is when the person has had an appropriate course of treatment and is in an optimum steady medical state.”