A Gulf War veteran has had help to turn his life around thanks to a new service supporting ex-service men and women and their families
Stuart Burton, 47 from Stafford is a former soldier who praised the organisation for their support in getting his life back on track after suffering from years of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Stuart was supported by local Armed Forces charity SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) and Staffordshire County Council. The charity offers ex-service men and women or their families emotional, financial and practical support.
Stuart served in the infantry of the Staffordshire Regiment for 12 years, seeing combat in the first Gulf War, and also spent three and a half years in Northern Ireland. He was 17 years old when he joined the army.
“I came out of the Army in 2001, but it took me the best part of 14 years to realise that I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I contacted SSAFA in April of this year because I was at the lowest point I’ve ever been. My marriage broke down, I had no money and I was homeless. , but just making that call to SSAFA really helped me.
“I sat down with two ladies, one of whom is now my caseworker, who spent an hour calming me down. They helped me get a flat, they’ve helped with furnishing it and making sure I have enough food, and also put me in touch with other veterans in a similar situation. They also put me in touch with a walking therapist, basically a counsellor who would take me for walks so we could talk, as it was less stressful than being in a room and having to look them in the eye. It’s really helping me to develop trust.
“The future is now looking a lot better for me thanks to SSAFA. I have a job that I’m happy with, and I have a home where my young son can come and stay. I’m now part of an SSAFA cycling club too, and next year we’re planning to cycle the 283 miles from Stafford to Dunkirk, which will be a real achievement. SSAFA have really looked after me and my son, and are continuing to do so. I would urge anyone who has been in the armed forces and is struggling, whether it’s with money, housing or mental health, to contact SSAFA. They can and will help you.”
The service is run entirely by volunteers and can help those who are having a difficult time adjusting to civilian life, either because of money worries, relationship breakdowns, struggling with finding employment or finding housing.
Alan White, Deputy Leader at Staffordshire County Council and Armed Forces Champion said:
“We have a long and proud military heritage here in Staffordshire with a large armed forces community and it’s important we support people like Stuart in whatever ways we can.
“I’m pleased to see that the service is having a real impact on people’s lives and able to offer advice in such a wide range of areas.”
Last year, SSAFA Staffordshire helped 600 people and helped raise £175,000 for local Armed Forces personnel and their families.
Kathy Munslow has been an SSAFA Caseworker for 36 years and worked with Stuart.
“It’s not that uncommon for ex-service men and women or their families to struggle to adapt to civilian life after leaving the military. That’s where SSAFA can help with lots of different issues and I’m delighted that we were able to support Stuart to get his life back on track.”
For further details on SSAFA Staffordshire, or to join as a volunteer, or to book an appointment contact 01785 212680 or email Staffordshire@ssafa.org.uk.