Man hoping to provide support for Chester veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder

Reporter:

Matt Warner

A MAN is working with a charity to raise awareness of ex-servicemen and women living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Chester.

Steven Ashton, 56, of Blacon, is training to be a therapist and aims to open a drop-in centre in the city for those living with the condition.

With many of us remembering those who lost their lives in conflicts this month, Steven said it is equally important to those who are living with the trauma of their experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, The Falklands and other conflicts.

He said it was especially important as many choose to remain silent with an often devastating impact of their own mental health and their families.

Steven, who served in the RAF for six years and the Cheshire Yeomanry Army Reserves for a further seven, said: “I want to raise awareness of how important an issue PTSD is at the presene time for our veterans. There is very little being done by the government to support our veterans coming back from warzones.

“I've had friends that have died as a result of PTSD. One friend had been living with it for a good while, for ten years, but nobody knew that he was suffering with PTSD.

“It is a silent killer.”

“We can't send men and women to these warzones to keep us all safe and expect them to come back the same as when they went. They need help and looking after if they need it.

“How can you put a price on a person's life?”

Steve has been appointed as the ambassador for Chester by Veterans at Ease, a UK registered charity established in 2010. It provide bespoke therapy to veterans, reservists, serving military personnel and their families suffering from PTSD and other combat stress-related issues.

Veterans at Ease is based in in Durham City with various centres across the North East of England, and Steve hopes to establish a drop-in centre in Chester to service the city as well as veterans living in Cheshire and North Wales with the help of the charity's CEO Garreth Murrell.

Steven also plans to train as a therapist so he can support veterans with therapies such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

Steven added: “They need to feel that they are not isolated and they won't be judged.

Veterans and their families have spoken about their experiences on the Veterans at Ease website.

One said: “After a difficult tour in Afghanistan I began experiencing problems with nightmares, flashbacks and anger. Increasingly I was finding everyday life more and more difficult and no longer seemed to get enjoyment out of anything. My relationship with my wife and son was deteriorating and I felt like there was no way out. I realised that I needed help and thankfully I came across the Veterans at Ease website.

“Garreth has helped me get my life back through the use of NLP and I now can honestly say I feel happy again, something which I had not felt in a long time. I was reluctant to ask for help as I felt that there were those that needed it more and I put it off for a long time, but I’m so glad that I finally did make that call.”

To contact Steven, email steash1@googlemail.com

For more information about Veterans at Ease, available therapies and help, or to make a donation visit www.veteransatease.org

Email:

matt.warner@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the Chester Leader

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