Mother of special forces hero Danny Johnston saya government has 'blood on its hands' over veteran suicides

THE grieving mother of a special forces hero who took his own life has accused the government of ‘having blood on its hands’ following the latest surge of veteran suicides in Portsmouth.

By Tom Cotterill
Monday, 17th January 2022, 4:55 am
Viv Johnston, mother of special forces hero Danny Johnston, has accused the government of having 'blood on its hands' over the nation's veteran suicide crisis
Photo: Tom Cotterill
Viv Johnston, mother of special forces hero Danny Johnston, has accused the government of having 'blood on its hands' over the nation's veteran suicide crisis Photo: Tom Cotterill

Viv Johnston lashed out at Whitehall for ‘paying lip service’ to the veteran community and said not enough is being done in the corridors of power to support traumatised troops.

Since then, she has been a staunch campaigner demanding radical reforms to the support services for veterans.

Danny Johnston, a special forces soldier who took his life in May 2018, after being discharged from the army.

But she said she has been left crushed by news that at least two ex-servicemen, supported by Portsmouth charity Forgotten Veterans UK, had taken their lives in the past month.

In a scathing outburst to The News, the courageous mum said: ‘The government throws money at all sorts of rubbish things; they need to start throwing money at veterans’ charities.

‘I really see this as blood on their hands. They truly disregard public opinion. They think if they just stay quiet it will all go away. We need to start making a lot more noise.

‘We had a huge response after Danny died. Things looked then as if it was going to start turning in veterans’ favour. But then it all died down.

Veterans suicide logo 2018

‘Every now and then there will be some sort of moral outrage. Then there will be this flurry of activity and it’s all gone again.

‘So much more needs to be done. I get so frustrated and angry. Lives have been lost needless.’

As previously reported, ‘tortured soul’ Danny killed himself after he was left ‘destroyed’ by his 14-year army career, which saw him serve in war zones across the Middle East, Kosovo and Northern Ireland.

The 35-year-old Corporal had been part of the UK’s elite Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), the sister regiment of the famed SAS. Before that he was part of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, Portsmouth’s local infantry unit.

But an inquest into his death revealed how the military offered him no support despite ‘obvious red flags’ about his mental health flaring up, which later led to him being discharged from the army.

The court heard how the experienced soldier had been traumatised by a tour in Afghanistan and unable to sleep.

Fearing his career would be left in tatters if he spoke out, Mr Johnston broke military rules and started using the prescription drug valium.

But he was eventually caught during a random drug test and sacked from the army, ‘a shame’ his family said he never truly recovered from.

On May 20, 2018, Mr Johnston disappeared from his family home in Bognor Regis, with his body being found on May 23 hanging from a tree in Stoughton woods, near Chichester.

He said: ‘Our service personnel need to be looked after and protected to a greater extent than they are.

‘In many ways, Danny’s tragic situation is an example of that. It’s the duty of this court to protect future people from that similar outcome.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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