Hero Shrewsbury soldier tells of mental health battle
A Shropshire military veteran has spoken about his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder – which led him to take legal action against the Ministry of Defence for failing to diagnose the condition.
Matthew Bispham, of Shrewsbury, was hailed as a hero and awarded the Military Cross following his service in Afghanistan in 2007, but his life spiralled out of control when he returned home.
After six years of struggle with no help from the MoD, his problems came to a head when he went missing in Shropshire after his car was discovered burnt out at the top of Grinshill.
He was found after three days suffering from various injuries walking along a road, and he still has no memory of what happened to him.
Matthew recently told his story to delegates at a special event held by Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors at University Centre Shrewsbury, aimed at raising awareness about PTSD.
He said it was vital that more support was given to military personnel following combat operations to prevent other people from suffering in silence.
“I felt abandoned by the military and I was going through hell for six years before they eventually took my condition seriously,” he said.
“When I was diagnosed with PTSD it was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders because I had something to focus on, and a reason why I was finding things so difficult.”
Louise Howard, associate solicitor with Lanyon Bowdler and host for the day, said Matthew’s talk was both inspiring and shocking.
“The audience was absolutely captivated by Matt, and I think everyone was inspired and shocked in equal measure,” she said.
“Inspired by Matt’s determination and courage in fighting through some horrendous times, but shocked that it took so long for anyone to give him the support he needed and deserved.”
Louise said the aim of the event, called The Past, Present, Future, was to provide an introduction to PTSD for professionals, helping people to understand what PTSD is and how it differs from other mental health issues, as well as discussing treatment options and available resources.
She added: “We were really pleased with the turn-out, with professionals from the military, NHS, statutory services, independent therapists, case managers, private clinicians and solicitors in attendance.
“The event was a great success in bringing together those that provide support for those suffering with PTSD and their families.
“Lanyon Bowdler signed the Armed Forces Covenant last year to demonstrate the firm’s commitment to those that serve.
"As an all-service law firm we are keen to support military personnel and their families.”
Other speakers included Missy L. Sell, mental health first aid England instructor, who has spent her entire career in the medical field, and Mark Perryman, a training manager and mental health first aid instructor, who served in the RAF and Royal Auxiliary Air Force as a medic.
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