charities have been accused of exaggerating the issue of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to raise more funds, according to the head of a veterans’ charity.
The way in which PTSD is used is getting “out of hand” according to Ed Parker, co-founder and CEO of Walking With The Wounded.
Mr Parker said the end of involvement in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan meant that images of people physically injured could no longer be relied on – so the condition of PTSD was being exploited to increase donations.
Charities gave PTSD such “kudos”, he said, that he had met some veterans who wanted the diagnosis “because it sits alongside being an amputee”.
He told The Times: “I think the PTSD label has become one that is very engaging. We have all got to raise money.
“We have all got to maintain a front to the public and as the conflict disappears into the past our ability to talk about the physical injuries actually declines.
“PTSD has become the headline of veteran mental health but actually it is a very small part of the problem.”
Mr Parker, himself a veteran and whose nephew Harry lost both legs in an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2009, said more former servicemen and women suffered from alcohol problems and other mental health issues such as anxiety.
The focus of PTSD, he said, meant those others were missing out on the correct treatment.
He is worried that the charity sector was being forced to “slightly sensationalise” how they raise funds to ensure money keeps coming in.
He told the newspaper: “We have got to be more interesting than Combat Stress, which has got to be more interesting than Help For Heroes because we are all fishing from the same pot.”
Figures suggest up to 6% of personnel suffer from PTSD, roughly the same number as those in civilian life.
The number is higher in the infantry at 7%, rising to 11% for those personnel in the Special Forces.