COMING under fire from the Taliban in Afghanistan is thankfully merely the stuff of nightmares for most civilians.
But a service launched in South Tyneside this week aims to tackle the invisible but very real wounds of war that can wreck the lives of former military personnel.
The cruel legacy of such careers can include broken marriages and relationships, homelessness and unemployment, drink and drug addiction and depression.
But help is now at hand in South Tyneside for some of the estimated 80,000 former military personnel in the North East alone who are living with the psychological scars of combat, including some mental health issues stretching back decades.
Veterans at Ease, a charity established by ex-soldiers for psychologically damaged war veterans, opened a new base yesterday at Jarrow Hall, part of Bede’s World museum, in Church Bank, Jarrow.
The Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside, Couns Eileen Leask and Olive Punchion, cut a ribbon to officially launch the charity’s latest therapy base, where the famous scholar and saint the Venerable Bede once lived, prayed and studied.
Coun Leask said: “This new office will have a major positive impact on the lives of the veterans and their families who live locally, who are suffering from the often devastating effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“By providing the service that Veterans at Ease offers, these people will find peace of mind, which they so richly deserve after serving this great country.
“The success rate that Veterans at Ease has enabled these veterans to get their lives back on track and find employment quickly.”
Garreth Murrell, who is founder, project manager and senior therapist with Veterans at Ease, developed PTSD after serving with the Cheshire Regiment for 10 years.
His problems developed after spells in the Falkland Islands and Northern Ireland, and he was also one of the first soldiers involved in the Bosnian conflict in 1992.
But he paid a high price for his military service, with PTSD leading to the breakdown of his marriage. He said: “An estimated one in 12 former military personnel suffer from these issues, and that’s why the work of Veterans at Ease is so vital.
“Our charity’s title reflects the idea of a military command, while people who receive help are called ‘beneficiaries,’ to underline the fact that they are benefiting from the help we provide.”
Veterans at Ease was established with the help of a Big Lottery – Reaching Communities grant of £380, 635, but that cash boost only covers just more than 50 per cent of its work and so the charity is actively seeking new donations.
Veterans at Ease uses what is called Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) in therapy sessions, to guide beneficiaries out of the dark tunnel of PTSD.
“There is also help for the families of those living with battle-scarred former military servicemen and women.
And it’s not just former Army personnel damaged by recent military conflicts who receive help.
One ex-soldier who had hardly left the house since serving in the Borneo war in the early 1960s successfully overcame his mental issues and is now an active supporter of Veterans at Ease, enjoying outdoor pursuits.
People who need help can be referred via their GPs or can contact the charity directly.
More information about Veterans at Ease is available by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.veteransatease.org.uk. or contact John Taylor on 0784 201 3790.