Wednesday, August 05, 2009

PTSD or bad job?

I can't imagine that news of the MoD press officer who claims he has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will go down that well in Helmand Province.

civil servant has broken ranks to reveal how he was forced to lie about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
John Salisbury-Baker, 62, was working in the Ministry of Defence when he says he was ordered to deliberately mislead bereaved families and the public.
He claims he was instructed to issue official statements through the media which were 'heavily spun' and clearly at odds with the reality.

But it does bring around the timely opportunity to see how much a civilian employment tribunal places on the disorder compared to the department being sued.

Whilst the judges deliberate over Marine McWilliam and Cpl Duncan who has their compensation increased considerably from the original beancounter decision due to the complexity of their injuries, John Salisbury-Baker doesn't have the posibility of a compensation limit.

For the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme places PTSD in its most serious form; usually reserved for those who can't even make it out of bed - at a maximum tariff of 8 or £48, 875 up from £28,750. And one of Mr Salisbury-Baker's own colleagues in London has regularly told journalists that PTSD is a bit of a myth in the Armed Forces and cases in the military are less frequent than on civvy street. Really? I suspect that's not so true but more to do with the classifications of PTSD and the decision many soldiers take of not declaring any such concerns.

One can, I suppose, feel sorry for him. There will be a judicial review on the use of snatch landrovers but unlike those he was apparently traumatised in talking about, he had a clear choice in his job. He applied for it and accepted it. He chose to continue doing it rather than get a new job or raise concerns. And yet he didn't. And so unlike troops who get sent where they are told and put their lives on the line: who don't get to go home to a comfy bed and have to eat out of 24 hour ration packs, still paying tax even when on ops, whilst hearing that the politicians who sent them there are happily spending our money, he had a choice.

The result? If he gets a large payout (let's not forget the poor, wee typist who sprained her wrist) not only is it a huge insult to all those who suffer from PTSD and who have been awarded paltry sums (often it's not even recognised in the top 3 injuries) under the AFCS but it takes much needed money away from the MoD who already suffer at the hands of a Treasury who clearly dislike the Armed Forces.

I for one will be watching closely to see the value placed on the wellbeing of a civilian who merely had to talk about soldiers and the value placed on those guys on the front line who, day after day, demonstrate why we should be so proud of them.

By all means, let's celebrate Armed Forces Day and allow the Nation to express their thanks. But can we also honour the Military Covenant and stop taking advantage of the stranglehold the MoD has over service personnel.


The Last Of The Few said...

I for 1 can not support this gentleman in his claim.

He is an MOD press officer. His job is too lie.

He has had 2 years on sick leave already. He is 63. The basis of his claim is too allow himself to retire early and draw his pension. If he was allowed to do that it would never have become what it is. I can not see how PTSD has actually come around.

As I said his job was to "bend" the truth. To adjust the public perception. Yes he had to support families but surely that does not come close to what the families or the troops themselves feel in terms of stress.

This is a sad story and this man does not have my support.

subrosa said...

I echo Last of the Few's words.