The release of the film Dunkirk has brought the horrors of World War Two into sharper focus and has underlined the significant improvement in care for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the decades since.
The film, directed by Christopher Nolan, recounts the evacuation of allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk in Operation Dynamo between 26 May and 4 June 1940.
Dunkirk veteran Colin Ashford went to a screening of the film with Prince Harry and revealed that symptoms of PTSD (then known as ‘shellshock’) still return in moments of difficulty or stress. At the time, little was understood about the condition, though support for forces leavers has improved immeasurably.
Ahmed Al-Nahhas, Partner in the military team at law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, works with veterans affected by PTSD, and advises that the condition “can develop as a result of exposure to stressful and traumatic events”. However, he indicates there are now systems in place to provide support.
Ahmed told QUEST: “As a service person, you are owed a duty of care by your military doctors and superiors. They should be trained to look out for symptoms and to help you get treatment. This includes reviewing your duties and medical grading, as well as giving you time to adjust to work.
“The symptoms of PTSD can lay dormant for many years, so if you find yourself suffering after your military career has ended, you should speak to your civilian GP.
“Early treatment can lead to a quicker and better recovery, so please don’t suffer in silence. There are a number of treatments that can be offered, such as therapy and in some cases medication.
“There are also a number of charities that specialise in helping veterans suffering from PTSD, perhaps best known are ‘Combat Stress’, and many of which provide free treatment and guidance.”
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