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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

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Stress disorder man from Maryport hopes he can stay in TA

A Maryport man is desperate to return to the Territorial Army after facing up to post traumatic stress disorder and seeking help to get his life back on track.

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READY TO SERVE: Martin Doherty

Martin Doherty, 25, of Bounty Avenue, joined the TA aged 16 and served on a tour of Iraq in 2007.

He mainly took part in patrols during his tour and was involved in little fighting but around a year after he got back he started suffering with symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.

He said: “I started noticing changes. I had really bad mood swings, losing my temper, drinking way too much and lost my appetite. I never really ate.

“The nightmares didn’t start until I calmed down the drinking. I would have nightmares about being on patrol and being hit by an improvised explosive device about three times a week.

“I didn’t know it was post traumatic stress disorder. I didn’t know what was happening.”

Martin said he was given a week’s readjustment training when he returned from Iraq and was asked if he needed counselling but at the time did not feel he had any problems.

An armed forces spokes-man said they could not comment on individual cases, but a 24-hour helpline has been launched to allow serving and former service personnel with mental health problems, and their families, to get support from people trained with dealing with these problems.

He added: “We take welfare of serving and former personnel very seriously.”

Martin kept going to training and drill nights and tried to manage the disorder himself until about 18 months ago when it got worse and he stopped attending.

He has now been told that because he has not attended for so long he will be discharged but he is hoping for a second chance.

He said: “I started counselling seven to eight months ago.

“I have always wanted to go back. My counsellor has sent a letter to the TA to say what I have been through but they have said I am out and have asked me to sign discharge papers.

“When they asked me to sign them I walked out and burst into tears.

“One half of me is for my wife Emma and my three boys and the other half is devoted to the TA. It is like they have taken half of me away.”

Martin still hasn’t signed his discharge papers and hopes that moving back to Carlisle later in the year will give him a chance to go back to the TA branch there.

He said: “I would like the TA to say they understand the time I have taken off and let me fit back in and carry on.

“With counselling I can honestly say my anger has come down a lot and I am going to carry on even if I feel better just to have someone to talk to.

“I would like to see the lads coming back from tours speak to counsellors when they come back - to make it compulsory that they talk to counsellors trained in these types of things a month after they come back.”

The helpline, run by the charity Rethink on behalf of Combat Stress and funded by the NHS, can be called on 0800 138 1619.

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