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Saturday, 30 May 2015

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Gulf War veteran to launch a stress counselling service

A former soldier from Maryport, who battled post-traumatic stress disorder for almost 20 years, is to launch his own counselling service to help others.

HELPING OTHERS: Maryport man Wayne Akehurst who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in the first Gulf War

Wayne Akehurst, 42, of Victory Crescent, was changed forever after he fought in the first Gulf War at the age of 20.

The experience left him depressed, aggressive, obsessively compulsive and unable to talk to anyone, even wife Laura, about his feelings.

It took the father-of-two 20 years to realise he could talk about his problems and he is now training as a counsellor to help other war veterans.

Laura, family and friends have supported him through the counselling.

Mr Akehurst, who works for JPL Plastering, will finish his course next month.

He plans to offer his services for free for other ex-service personnel.

He said a trigger for his post-traumatic stress disorder was when he almost shot two American soldiers while on guard duty, believing they were the enemy.

He said: “I hadn’t long been out of training. I was still wet behind the ears when we were sent out into the desert.

“Once you are out in the desert there are six of you and that’s it. You are watching each other’s backs. The planes are bombing constantly. You are haggard from a lack of sleep. Every night you think ‘is this going to be my last?’

“I saw a vehicle and then two guys coming towards me and they weren’t stopping even when I was challenging them.

“The third time I cocked my weapon. I was shaking and I knew I was going to have to kill them.

“My sergeant grabbed my gun off me and ran out. It was two Americans. It stuck with me for years that I was going to kill these guys.”

He said that within 18 months his personality had transformed. He was drinking more and became depressed.

He said: “I thought about the Gulf a lot; the bodies I had seen in Kuwait, the American soldiers, all of it.

“I was suicidal and thought about ending it many times.”

Mr Akehurst said an incident at a Remembrance Day parade in 2011 forced him to seek help.

He declined to go into details, but said a doctor referred him to the First Step counselling service at Maryport’s cottage hospital.

He added: “I still have little moments, but I am okay.

“I am not the only one. There are hundreds of young lads out there suffering.”

Have your say

I think that's an amazing thing to do and a great achievement. I am a recently qualified counsellor and I am doing a diploma in PTSD, I also have friends who suffer from it. Its debilitating and not enough support is offered to our war veterans when they return home.
Well done Wayne.
As for "Bill" you obviously didn't read the article as it says Wayne is offering to counsel for free. Maybe you should gain some compassion !

Posted by Sharon Maxwell on 14 February 2013 at 15:44

Good for you Wayne, I applaud your compassion!

Posted by Stu on 11 February 2013 at 13:57

View all 4 comments on this article

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