MP urged to step in over veteran's hunger strike on Shropshire street
Defence secretary Gavin Williamson has been asked to step in after a veteran started a hunger strike outside Newport’s Combat Stress building.
Councillor Eric Carter wrote to Mr Williamson requesting an urgent meeting after Gus Hales, 62, took up the protest outside the Audley Court unit of the mental health charity.
Mr Hales, entering into his fourth day of protest, said there are far too many veterans, including himself, being abandoned and left on the streets with mental health issues.
WATCH: Veteran on hunger strike in Newport
In his letter, Councillor Carter asked for the chance to discuss the problem with Mr Williamson.
“The ex-servicemen I have met this afternoon are retired Falkland Islands veterans, who have expressed to me their concerns regarding the extremely high number of suicides and the apparent lack of assistance for these valued members of society,” Councillor Carter wrote.
“I would like to arrange a meeting with you in London to discuss this worrying situation.”
Mr Hales has drawn widespread support from people in Newport, with many taking to social media to offer their thanks for his efforts.
Councillor Thomas Janke, who also represents residents in Newport, said: “I’m standing in solidarity with Gus.
"I have to declare my utter respect and appreciation for the staff that work at Combat Stress.
"They’ve saved literally hundreds of veterans suffering with PTSD and beyond.
“However, the corporate decision to discharge these veterans still suffering is a source of great frustration.
“The least our country and charities can do is look after them properly.”
Mr Hales pitched up outside the Audley Court Combat Stress building on Monday evening, and is calling on the charity itself and the Government to get help to veterans who need it.
Mr Hales, who lives in Builth Wells with his wife Angela, plans to continue his protest until Remembrance Sunday.
“You can’t have all these gushing parades for our glorious dead when we are treating people who are alive in this way,” he said.
Sue Freeth, chief executive of Combat Stress, said they had offered Mr Hales a number of opportunities to get the help he needs.
“Mr Hales’ wellbeing is of paramount importance to us. We’re concerned with his decision to stage a hunger strike, especially in this wintry weather, and are keen to resolve this matter quickly,” she said.
Staff from the charity offered to speak with him, but Ms Freeth said he had refused.