"When Peter came home from Iraq he
was not the same person. He looked like a ghost and acted like
a robot. It was like his soul had gone"
Having been on four tours to Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Iraq
within five years, Peter had reached breaking point. During this
time he had uncovered mass graves, watched helplessly as friends
died in front of him and seen women and children who had been
Back at home, his wife Rachel felt powerless as Peter descended
into a mental abyss. "I didn't know what to do. I panicked and
cried my eyes out when he put on his uniform and went off thinking
he was on patrol in Northern Ireland, I couldn't go chasing after
him because I had the children to think about."
Peter doesn't remember these ten months of his life, when he
slept under the dining room table and went AWOL in the middle of
the night. Nor can he recollect throwing his medals in the bin,
including the Military Cross, awarded after he saved a colleague
from a blazing vehicle while under attack.
Rachel says, "He started sleeping on the settee. He would wake
sweating from terrible nightmares. I would come down during the
night and check on him. Sometimes I would find him rocking crying
his eyes but not saying a word. I would just sit there with him,
too scared to touch him.
"His behaviour was different and changeable. One minute he would
be ok and then he would explode. He wasn't an angry man before all
of this. He was paranoid, confused and didn't know who he was. I
managed to shield the kids from most of it but it was an absolute
Everything came to a head on a family break to a holiday camp.
"We were watching a cabaret act when he had his first flashback. It
was really shocking. He thought he was on patrol in Northern
Ireland and didn't stop shaking for days."
Fortunately, his doctor put him in contact with Combat
Rachel says, "I have met a lot of people who don't have a clue
about PTSD. I didn't, so I really welcome there being an awareness
After receiving medical treatment, counselling and practical
support, Peter is finally back on his feet, having lost his
business, his health temporarily and almost his family. He credits
Combat Stress with 'saving their lives' and is grateful for all
Rachel says, "We have been through the mill. It put a great
stress on us but Peter is a lot better now." In fact Peter is in
his second year at university and has landed a management job. At
last the future is looking up for the young family. "We are living
more of a normal life now," adds Rachel. That's something she
hasn't been able to say for many years.