Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff has urged the government to intervene to stop cutbacks at PTSD treatment centre Audley Court as more local servicemen come forward to back the campaign.
Ms Sherriff spoke out after veterans met with management at the facility in Newport, Shropshire, which is run by the charity Combat Stress.
There are fears for the future of the centre’s residential programme, which is under threat, as well as concerns that key staff such as carers, therapists, clinicians and nurses will be made redundant.
“The uncertain future of Audley Court has been distressing for many veterans from far and wide, including some in my constituency, who have depended on this service,” said Ms Sherriff.
“I am often concerned to hear how veterans suffer disproportionately with mental health issues, unemployment, as well as homelessness. The centre at Audley Court has proven to be a lifeline for so many.
“If this Government truly believes in ‘parity of esteem’ in terms of mental health and physical health, they would intervene to save this service, which has proved vital to so many of our brave service people.”
Former soldier Colin Rudkin, 68, from Shepley , was among those who participated in a peaceful protest at Audley Court last week. Formerly with the Royal Green Jackets, he served in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and suffers flashbacks and nightmares. He was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by staff at Audley Court.
Now another local ex-squaddie, 67-year-old Les Woodhead from Dewsbury , has championed Audley Court, describing it as “a lifeline.”
The former corporal in the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, who also served in Northern Ireland for three years between 1970 and 1973, said: “Audley Court saved my life.
“It’s a real lifeline to ex-servicemen and women. Closing it is just not on.”
He added: “I’ve had seven years of treatment there since 2009, as well as residential treatment. I’ve had problems since 1974, and I didn’t know that there was any help out there. I had suicidal tendencies and planned to kill myself. I was stopped by a workmate before I could do it.”
“That was in 2008. I was 58. I came out of the army in 1974 so it took all that time to occur. These psychological problems never go away. You are never okay. You manage it by using coping strategies. That’s what Audley Court offers.”
Veterans have an active campaign group on Facebook and ask anyone who has received treatment at Audley Court to make contact: https:// www.facebook.com/groups/173302219908931/