Vital 24-hour helpline for military veterans suffering with PTSD faces the axe

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 A life-saving helpline for veterans battling with PTSD may have to axe its 24-hour operation because of a cash crisis.  Combat Stress says its round-the-clock service desperately needs funds.  Last year it handled more than 12,500 calls – up 24 per cent in a year.  But in March the NHS cut ­£3.2million of Combat Stress’s overall funding – a fifth of its income.  The charity has already reduced its vital residential care programmes.  And now bosses have appealed through the Sunday People for public donations to keep its helpline available at all times. Irish Air Corps carried out over 310 emergency medical missions in rural communities across Ireland this year    They chose us because of our Save Our Soldiers campaign, which calls for a radical overhaul of how the Government and military top brass handle post-traumatic stress.  , Combat Stress director of client services, said: “We absolutely do not want to reduce the hours.   “Our helpline is the first port of call for veterans seeking help and it is really important they are able to contact us at any time of the day or night.  “A lot of calls are made at night because often people with mental health conditions find it difficult to sleep. Many have told us that if they hadn’t made that call they wouldn’t be here today.  “We have enough funding to see us through to April because we have been fortunate enough to receive a couple of legacies.  “But after that everything depends on how much money we are able to raise.” Tragic Scots soldiers in suicide epidemic honoured by candlelit vigil as death toll hits 70 for 2018     Northern Ireland veteran Chris Batty, who suffers from PTSD, credits the helpline with saving his life.  The former Lance Corporal, from Sunderland, hit rock bottom last December after nearly two decades of self-medicating with alcohol.  A former Army pal suggested he contact Combat Stress.  Chris, 48, said: “I had to build up the courage to pick up the phone because it takes a lot to admit you need help.   “It was in the middle of the night that I finally made the call and when I came off the phone it felt like someone had turned a valve in me and released a load of pressure. That call was the turning point in my life. I was a raving alcoholic and had lost all hope. I couldn’t see any further.”  He started one-to-one sessions with a community psychiatric nurse and took part in the charity’s occupational therapy workshops.   In May he was offered a place on Combat Stress’s six-week intensive trauma programme and he now volunteers for the charity Veterans in Crisis Sunderland.  Chris, who served seven years with the 1st Battalion, the Light Infantry, in the 1990s, said: “That helpline is a lifesaver – I’m the proof of that. It needs to be 24/7.  Crises don’t happen between 9 and 5, they happen when the veteran is lying in bed at night and can’t sleep or is having night terrors.  “I want other veterans to have the same amazing support as I had.”  The helpline – cos

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