A Sunday People investigation has revealed that almost 13,000 former soldiers are now homeless after leaving the military, and almost all of them suffer from PTSD.

That figure is a record high according to military charities, who have said the Government is failing those who put their lives on the line to fight for the British Armed Forces.

One of those is 56-year-old Les Standish, who won the Military Medal after fighting in the Falklands War when saved the life of a fellow soldier who had his leg blown off in the 1982 Battle of Goose Green.

Les suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and was homeless for six months, and says he has met many other former soldiers from the Falklands, as well as troops sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, who have suffered the same fate.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

"The Government has let these people down," he told the paper. "These men and women were willing to fight and lay down their lives for this country and the only help available to them is from charities.

"The Government needs to do more for them. It's a disgrace."

Les, who became a prison officer after leaving the army, said that the vast majority of veterans he's met all struggle with PTSD, and that that can then lead to a range of other problems including drug and alcohol addiction.

"All of the homeless veterans I met had PTSD and were in need of help," he said, and he admitted that he was no different.

"I could see the faces of the men I had killed and would wake up screaming, soaked in sweat," he said. "I became too scared to go to sleep and began drinking heavily.

"I was medically retired from the prison ­service. My world collapsed and I was homeless. I slept in my van for six months and felt unable to talk to anyone. But eventually I got help."

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

He's just one of many people suffering who are profiled in the People's report. Murphy James, who works for the Windsor Homeless Project, told the paper how bad it is in that town, which has recently been in the news after its council leader, Simon Dudley, urged police to act against rough sleepers.

"There are 12 to 15 rough sleepers on the streets of Windsor and we've got 50 to 60 on our books," Dudley told the paper.

"Typically, two in ten at any one time will be former military. They may not necessarily have just left the military, but that is where they developed their mental health issue which led to them being homeless.

"The problem is that the Government aren't doing nearly enough to help. They haven't done anything and whatever they have done amounts only to lip service.

"They've been making cuts to mental health services and that's the crux of the problem in this country."

In response to the crisis, Murphy has launched a new project to help anyone suffering a mental health problem.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Mischa Pearlman

Mischa is a freelance journalist usually based in either New York or London. He has written for Kerrang!, Record Collector, NME, the New York Observer and FLOOD magazine, among others. Contact him at [email protected]

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