Support available for ‘hidden victims’

Sarah Mills, left, and Sarah Power, who have launched a support group for relatives of veterans at Sandalwood house

Sarah Mills, left, and Sarah Power, who have launched a support group for relatives of veterans at Sandalwood house

First published in News
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THE families and carers of veterans grappling with the harsh realities of war will no longer feel doomed to emotional and physical isolation thanks to a new support group.

Aimed at the hidden victims of international conflicts – those left to pick up the pieces when their loved ones return from the frontlines – the new Swindon-based service will allow them to open up about their concerns and daily struggles.

The trauma experienced by servicemen and women fighting in international conflicts can have dire consequences not only on their mental health but wreak havoc in their personal lives as they return home.

Yet while a support network is readily available to them, their families are too often left at a loss to handle a completely alien and overwhelming situation.

Sarah Power was left stunned when her husband Anthony began experiencing mood swings, soon followed by emotional numb- ness five years ago, until she hardly recognised him. In 2012, he was finally diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, 10 years after completing a series of military tours across the world and returning to the UK.

“We lived the symptoms for five years,” said the mother-of-two from North Swindon. “There were his moods and it started with emotional numbing and distancing from people, and odd dreams.

“I met Anthony after he had finished his tours. He was still in the Army but he was UK-bound. I thought he was becoming a different person.”

While he started receiving therapy, Sarah, 32, was unable to find anyone to speak with she could relate to.

That is when the idea of forming a group for men and women in similar positions grew.

She approached the South West Veterans Mental Health Service to bridge the gap in provision for veterans’ carers and loved ones.

Along with trainee clinical psychologist Sarah Mills, she set up the support group at Sandalwood Court. They will hold their second meeting on March 3 from 10am until noon.

Sarah Mills, 34, added: “We want to offer people support in a space that is non-judgemental and safe. Getting their own support it can actually help people support their partners’ psychological treatment. We will also give them information and signpost other services they might need.”

To join the group visit http://www.swveterans.org.uk/ or call 0300 555 0112.

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