Mother of Bradford soldier who saw friend killed urges others to seek help (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Mother of soldier who saw friend killed in Afghanistan urges others to seek help
The mother of a Bradford soldier who quit the Army after struggling with depression following service in Afghanistan has encouraged other troubled veterans to seek help if they are finding it hard to cope.
Private Matthew Scott, 21, of the Royal Dragoon Guards, watched as one of his best friends, Ashley Smith, was killed in an explosion at a checkpoint in the Nahr-e Saraj district, Helmand, his mother Janet said.
And at one point during his 2010 tour of the war-torn country, Pte Scott was in a tank that was attacked. He escaped injury, but the vehicle was damaged.
He began to suffer problems with his mental health as he prepared at Catterick Garrison to return to Afghanistan.
“I’m sure it’s not a one-off, the amount of lads and lasses that have been out there,” she said. “A lot of them have left, just because they couldn’t cope.
“I think it’s quite hard for them and I don’t think everybody realises just how bad it is.
“I think it is important that people know what is out there and is available.”
She said her son, of Woodside, went from being an outgoing young man who was the “life and soul of the party”, to becoming withdrawn and depressed, before he applied for early leave from the Army in April.
After his tour he began seeing a mental health team, but Mrs Scott said on returning to civillian life he had not known where to turn.
“I saw a massive change in him, in how he handles things,” she said. “He just withdraws into himself, gets stressed about things easily now. He struggles to deal with things.”
An spokesman for the Army said: “The vast majority of service personnel make the transition to civilian life successfully, but a small number suffer problems as a result of their service.
“The NHS is responsible for delivering veterans’ healthcare needs, and services are available which cater specifically to veterans’ mental health needs. These include a free 24-hour helpline and an online social network.”