The Evening Standard story – Britain 'failing' to help troops
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The country is “failing miserably” to help injured and traumatised troops recover from combat, the parents of the 200th member of the British forces to die in Afghanistan have said.
Hazel Hunt was speaking outside the inquest of her son Private Richard Hunt, who was killed when his Warrior vehicle hit an Improvised Explosive Device.
He suffered “unsurvivable injuries” in the blast on August 13 last year but his colleagues managed to drag him from the personnel carrier and he was transferred to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham. The 21-year-old from Abergavenny, south Wales, died two days later with his family at his bedside.
Speaking outside the inquest at Birmingham Coroners’ Court on Wednesday, his mother Hazel and father Phillip said more needed to be done to help troops returning from combat with serious injuries or suffering from severe mental trauma.
Mrs Hunt, who had her son’s dog tag turned into a pendant which she wears, said: “As far as we are concerned we have lost Richard, which is the worst thing that can happen to any parent. But there are those who are coming back severely injured and they need an awful lot more help than they are getting.
“These boys and girls are taught to be resilient and not to rely on anybody so when they come out of the Armed Forces they are left to wallow on their own. It’s a case of sink or swim and a lot are sinking. It all needs to be much better organised and they shouldn’t have to cope on their own.”
She added: “On the one hand, numbers mean nothing because it’s a war and in war people die, but on the other hand is it a necessary war? I have been able to raise awareness because of the fact Richard is number 200 and a lot of people don’t know why we are out there.”
The inquest heard Pte Hunt was driving one of the Warriors, a task he disliked but did without complaining, towards Musa Qala, Helmand Province, when it hit the IED. His Warrior was following 15 other vehicles in established tracks to reduce the risk of hitting a hidden bomb.
Despite being driven over by the convoy ahead, the device detonated as Private Hunt negotiated a steep river bank. It is thought it may have been a mine left over from when the Russians invaded Afghanistan. Army medics rushed to save the soldier and they managed to free him before he was transferred by helicopter to Camp Bastion and then Kandahar. The soldier, from 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, was then flown to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, where his condition deteriorated and he died from a massive brain injury.
Paying tribute to Private Hunt, Major Huw Jones said: “Richard was brave and never hesitated to do what was asked of him immediately.”
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