Former Army medic backs calls for 24/7 helpline

As a female soldier, I was never supposed to get involved in close-quarter combat – until the day I shot dead a Taliban fighter at close range. While serving as a senior medic, I treated dozens of horrifically wounded soldiers from the battlefields of Helmand.Today, the anguished expressions of those injured troops remain etched in my memory and I still feel guilty about those we couldn’t save. Yet for all of that, I don’t suffer from any mental or emotional disorder. I am one of the lucky ones.Lucky because in the past ten years the numbers of troops diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has almost doubled and more than 400 serving soldiers have taken their own lives since 1995 – most recently another Afghanistan veteran, Warrant Officer Nathan Hunt, of the Royal Engineers. Former Army medic Chantelle Taylor, pictured here on the frontline in Afghanistan, is backing calls for a 27-hour helpline for serving troops suffering from PTSDEnough is enough, I say. What more evidence does one need that the current provision of mental healthcare is lacking than the suicide of yet another respected and experienced soldier?The Ministry of Defence expects an extremely high level of professionalism from its military so it’s time for them to meet like with like and care for those who selflessly serve their country.So today I’m backing The Mail on Sunday’s campaign for round-the clock care, including a 24/7 helpline. Serving sailors, soldiers and airmen suffering from PTSD should not have to rely on charities or the already overburdened NHS to provide lifesaving treatment at night and at weekends. Simple measures like this will save lives. RELATED ARTICLES Previous 1 Next May rebukes former German Ambassador who tells her to… Share this article Share As a medic, it concerns me deeply that so many troops are being failed by the mental healthcare system, or the lack of it. That is why I’ve previously driven through the night to be there for suicidal friends.It is the norm for people in close-knit military communities to go the extra mile to support their comrades. Yet I can’t help thinking the MoD should be keeping a caring eye on our troops too.So in addition to a helpline, we should introduce routine testing for psychological problems. We test our people’s physical fitness, so why not their mental health, as the Americans already do? Ms Taylor said serving troops suffering from PTSD should not have to rely on charities or the already overburdened NHS to provide lifesaving treatment at night and at weekendsAcross the Armed Forces, tens of thousands of troops who served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan are still in service. For as long as they remain in uniform, their welfare is the MoD’s responsibility. These men and women deserve a dedicated 24/7 helpline, staffed by military experts who are vetted, cleared and supported by a nationwide network of first-responders.The existing helplines run by military charities are not designed to

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