Sister of ex-soldier who took his own life backs campaign for better support for our Armed Service veterans
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Stephen Kidger served more than seven years as an infantry soldier with the 2 Royal Regiment of Fusiliers after leaving Hebburn Comprehensive School and toured Northern Ireland, Belize and the Balkans during his time.
He was living back in his home town when he was found dead in September 2011 aged 42.
Today, as his family continues to grieve, his sister Denise Kidger has given her support to a petition urging the Government to provide more support for those who leave the Armed Services if they are struggling.
Denise is speaking from her own experience, as she suffers Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and served in the admin and finance section of the Women’s Royal Army Corp before it merged with the Army.
Stephen had sought help, but Denise believes he was not offered the right form of care and believes from his behaviour he too may have had PTSD, with a “chain of events” causing him heartache.
The family’s loss was compounded after Stephen’s 17-year-old son, named after his dad, took his own life 13 months after his father.
Stephen also left parents Norma and Ken, his former wife Belinda, and sister Tracey-Ann Knight, 42.
Denise, 50, who also grew up in Hebburn and now lives in Seaham, has backed the Fight For Our Lives petition.
Launched by the East Durham Veterans’ Trust it calls on changes so coroners record if someone has taken their own life has served, an annual mental health check for three years after they leave their post and rapid intervention for those in need.
“I will never get the answers,” said Denise, who works for the Finchale Group, which supports veterans.
“Stephen was the life and soul of the party, he was loving and generous, but I still feel he had PTSD – I can reflect on that now.
"I was lucky to get the help in the end.
"So many people don’t ask for help, but my brother did.
"I absolutely back the petition, it should make the Government think about what it should be doing.”