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Top Tory Johnny Mercer attacked by fellow veteran over 'stupid' PTSD remark

Top Tory Johnny Mercer attacked by fellow veteran over 'stupid' PTSD remark
2 min read

Prominent Conservative MP Johnny Mercer has come under fire for suggesting veterans charities overstate the scale of PTSD to make more cash.

The former army officer accused some organisations of going “way too far” in presenting soldiers as “mad, bad and dangerous”.

He also argued veterans should not blame employment rejections or scrapes with the law on their service - saying it was “disingenuous to those who genuinely have problems”.

But the comments earned a stinging rebuke from Military Cross recipient Trevor Coult - who serves as a trustee of charity Veterans in Action.

The ex-colour sergeant told the Times: “Johnny Mercer is in a position where he can promote important things and he doesn’t. He tends to promote himself, which is totally wrong, outrageous.”

Mr Coult - who fronts a new party called Democrats and Veterans - added: “We have the support of the public, and his stupid statements saying people are faking it... devalues and degrades people who have genuine mental health issues."

Speaking to the The Daily Telegraph, Mr Mercer - who served three combat heavy tours in Afghanistan - had said: “Some charities have gone way too far in painting the picture of veterans in the UK for their own ends, to raise money.

“They do it because they are a business, because they want the money.”

The Plymouth MP, who received help from the army to deal with his OCD, warned that soldiers risked getting caught in a “culture of victimhood” that was leading to soaring rate of “self-diagnosed” PTSD.

“Don’t go around saying you’ve got PTSD when you just need to do a bit of work for your mental health. It takes up resources. Let’s keep that for those who are really poorly”, he said.

The Commons Defence Select Committee, of which Mr Mercer is a member, is currently probing levels of mental health in the military after the Treasury pledged a £20m pot to fund a helpline for troops.

The line, which is run by charity group Combat Stress, aims to help serving soldiers who struggle with mental health problems.

A spokesperson for Combat Stress said: “Each year we receive over 2000 referrals from veterans struggling with their mental health.

"Not all will have PTSD, and the focus of our treatment work is trauma-related mental health.”

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