A FORMER soldier has written a novel to raise awareness about post traumatic stress disorder in the forces.
Stephen John, who was a driver in the Royal Corps of Transport between 1981 and 1984, has written I Am The Enemy You Killed, My Friend, reflecting on the human cost of war.
The author, now a PTSD campaigner, drew on his experiences of seeing colleagues suffer during the Falklands War.
Narrated by a war veteran, the novel is a flashback describing a young man’s physical and psychological journey.
Farnworth-born Mr John says he has seen the severe effect of the silent condition.
He added: “I’m a former soldier so I understand how difficult it must be for men especially to talk about their feelings in a typically macho environment. It’s still a taboo to speak about it today as there is still that stigma attached to it.
“When you sign up for the Army, you know that you will go to war, but it never crosses your mind what can happen along the way. You don’t think about your own mortality until you come face to face with it.
“A lot of soldiers may say that they are not scared of dying but that’s not the biggest problem — it’s what and who you leave behind when you go on tour or the experiences you have while away from your loved ones.
"Veteran support groups claim that more veterans of the Falklands conflict have taken their own lives since the end of hostilities than died in action.”
Mr John, aged 50, who now lives in Lymm, Cheshire, says it is not a new illness. “The condition was known as ‘shell shock’ in World War One, ‘nerve problems’ in the second. The term post-traumatic stress disorder was coined in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.
“Ten years after the end of the Great War, 65,000 veterans were still being treated for the psychological effects of the war.
"I know people who suffer from PTSD who talk about the war and what happened, but find it hard to talk about how they felt at the time or how the experience affected them.
“Since Afghanistan, PTSD has become more prevalent in the media and in people’s minds, which is a positive thing.
"But it is still very difficult for sufferers to talk about. The more information available to the public, the better our understanding of it will be.”
I Am The Enemy You Killed, My Friend is out now on Amazon Kindle for 99p. A paperback version will be available in April for £6.99.