TRAUMATISED veterans battling a silent war against mental health are still facing an uphill struggle against fearful employers, a decorated army officer has claimed.
Lieutenant Colonel Chris Parker has hit out saying ex-soldiers, diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are still being penalised by employers.
This comes despite a national drive for companies to sign up to the armed forces covenant, which is a pledge to offer fair treatment for military veterans and their families.
The retired officer – who was chief of staff of the 8,000-strong 7th Armoured Brigade in the Middle East during the Iraq War – said scores of troops were being sacked or pushed out of roles after admitting to their condition.
Lt Col Parker, who grew up in Cowplain and is the chairman of the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment Association – which looks after troops across the area – said things needed to change.
Speaking to The News, the nine-time combat veteran said: ‘There is clearly evidence that, although the public is very positive and say when asked they will support the military, it can be a very different story with employers.
‘The sad news is once employers find out their employees have PTSD or have had mental health issues in the past, very often we find people lose their jobs.
‘There seems to be a fear that someone will turn into an axe murderer. This certainly isn’t an issue.
‘The problem we have is the great paradox of lots of support against the reality that people don’t want veterans in their workplace because they fear they will, for whatever reason, lose control. That simply doesn’t happen.’
City Lib Dem boss Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson was dismayed by the claim.
Portsmouth City Council is one of the island’s biggest employers. It has recently been nominated for the gold standard on the armed forces covenant for its support of veterans and their families.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘As a city, we’re one of the best in the country at supporting our veterans. As a military city we have a better understanding of some of the problems that people face when they come out the force.
‘Other cities don’t have this level of understanding. It is a real problem. Families suffer because of this.
‘People need to understand that military veterans make really good employees. They come with enormous skills and training which should be valued.’