A SOLDIER who lost his family and home because of post-traumatic stress disorder has turned his life around and is now helping other traumatised veterans.
Terry Beale was forced to battle alone with the condition for more than a decade.
The number of ex-servicemen who commit suicide every week is just astronomicalTerry Beales
The 57-year-old said his mental health deteriorated to such a state that he pushed his family and friends away.
But after completing a rehabilitation course with armed forces charity Combat Stress, Terry has been given a new lease of life.
And to mark this fresh optimism, he is helping to launch a new peer mentor group for other veterans battling PTSD.
Terry, of Portland Road, Southsea, said: ‘Twice I have come close to ending it all. That’s how bad life became.
‘I felt like I was going mad. I wasn’t able to work, I used to hide away from people and wouldn’t socialise.
‘My relationship broke down because I was pushing my own family away from me. I had this fear of losing them so I pushed them all out.’
Terry joined the army at 16 and by the time he was 18 he was patrolling the streets of Northern Ireland.
It was here that the root of his PTSD manifested itself, he said. ‘Northern Ireland was a psychological war. The IRA’s intel was really good,’ he said.
‘They were sending letters to relatives of troops in Ireland and knew our names.’
But with help from Combat Stress and armed forces charity SSAFA, Terry has found a new home and now wants to give back. He is volunteering with SSAFA and is helping to run the peer mentoring session at The Royal Maritime Club on the first Wednesday of every month.
And his efforts are being backed by Richard Bowes of Fast Track Garage, in Rodney Road, Southsea.
Richard has provided Terry with a car to use to get around the city rapidly for ‘soldiers in crisis’.
Terry added: ‘The number of ex-servicemen who commit suicide every week is just astronomical. If I can do anything even just to save one life, then that will mean everything to me.’
In the past two years there has been a surge of veterans suffering with PTSD, said Sue French, chief executive of Combat Stress.
But she said many still ‘suffered in silence’ too afraid of the stigma of mental health to seek help.
‘Left untreated, their condition can become debilitating,’ she added.
For support, call Combat Stress’s 24-hour helpline, on 0800 138 1619.