Army ignores mental health problems
Date: Monday, March 26 2007
British soldiers 'go Awol because Army ignores mental health problems'
By Ian Herbert
Published: 26 March 2007
Thousands of British soldiers have gone absent without leave since 2003 because the Army is unwilling to accept the gravity of mental problems caused by their tours in Iraq.
The Ministry of Defence estimates there have been 10,000 Awol incidents since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and 1,100 servicemen are currently "on the run" from the Army.
One soldier tells the BBC's Panorama programme tonight that he went absent without leave - a crime punishable by life imprisonment - after being refused compassionate leave, despite suffering from flashbacks and lack of sleep after a tour in which he saw a comrade killed. Steve (not his real name) said he was refused compassionate leave on grounds that only those serviceman who have suffered a bereavement are granted it.
He went Awol after the Army lost his application for early discharge, he says. His anticipated release, within 12 months, was extended by at least six months