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Mental health care for reservists

16th May 2006

Members of the armed forces returning from active service will be offered mental healthcare treatment, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced today.

All troops demobilised since January 2003 will be eligible for the service, which is especially targeted at the six per cent of reservists suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PSTD).

Victims with PSTD caused by the 2003 invasion of Iraq will receive outpatient treatment by the Defence Medical Services, with recourse to the NHS available in extreme cases.

"I am determined to ensure that our reservists have access to the very best care and support, and that is why I am delighted to be able to announce today a new post-operational healthcare programme for demobilised reservists," said Tom Watson, under secretary of state for defence.

"Monitoring the health and wellbeing of our servicemen in Iraq has been a major priority for the MOD and is one of the key lessons learned from the 1990/1991 Gulf War."

A report published in today's Lancet suggests that despite increased numbers of PTSD compared to the first Gulf War, no repetitions of the Gulf War syndrome which affected thousands of US and British troops appear to have developed.

A series of symptoms causing mortality rates among US troops higher than those in the Vietnam conflict were encountered by coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War conflict, causing chronic fatigue, brain cancer and fibromyalgia.