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Mentally Ill Troops Denied Pay-out by the Army's Approved Insurers

Discussion in 'News, Politics & Debates' started by batgirl, Apr 22, 2007.

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  1. batgirl

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    Thousands of traumatised soldiers have been denied payouts because a Government-approved insurance scheme does not cover long-term psychological illnesses.

    Troops medically discharged from the military after developing combat-related mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) do not receive compensation from the Pax insurance scheme, which is described to soldiers as "your best defence against the unexpected". Pax is owned by Aon Ltd, one of the five biggest insurance companies in the world.

    The chance of developing a psychological illness after serving in combat operations is now greater than at any time since the Korean War half a century ago. Government figures show that more than 2,100 soldiers have returned from Iraq since 2003 suffering from some form of mental illness. Afghanistan will have produced further such casualties.

    All forces personnel are encouraged to take out insurance before they deploy on military operations. Most choose the Pax policy because it is approved by the Ministry of Defence. Although the policy states in the small print of its terms and conditions that it does not include cover for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or psychiatric illness, serving officers claim that such stipulations are rarely, if ever, spelled out to -soldiers.

    Mark Harper, the Tory spokesman on forces' families and welfare, called on the MoD to clarify the advice it provides for troops. "If this policy has been given the MoD's seal of approval, they have a duty of care to tell troops exactly what it does and does not cover," he said. "If you are a 20-year-old servicemen about to go on operations, you are not going to be interested in whether your policy covers you for a psychological illness."

    Under the policy, troops buy units of insurance, up to a total of 15. Each unit costs £2.10 a month. The compensation they receive depends on the type and severity of injury and how many units they have purchased. If, for example, a soldier bought four units and was blinded in both eyes by a bomb, he would receive £20,000 per unit - a total of £80,000. Troops are also covered for death, total paralysis and time spent in hospital.

    Psychiatric conditions suffered by servicemen include PTSD, manic depression, and drug and alcohol dependency. Up to 20 service personnel have committed suicide either during or after active duty in Iraq.

    The MoD has yet to publish figures of the number of soldiers diagnosed with a psychiatric condition after serving in Afghanistan, where the risk of death and injury has been even greater in recent months than in Iraq. Combat Stress, a mental health charity for veterans, says it has seen a 26 per cent increase in the number of troops seeking help over the past year. They include 160 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seeking help for mental health conditions, many of whom were not diagnosed while they were serving in the Forces.

    Of the 2,100 soldiers diagnosed with a psychiatric condition after serving in Iraq since 2003, 904 have developed adjustment disorders, where sufferers have difficulty readjusting to their normal way of life after a traumatic experience.

    Up to 328 servicemen and women returned from Iraq with PTSD, which can lead to manic depression. Another 227 were diagnosed with other neurotic disorders. A further 188 had taken part in "psychoactive substance misuse", including alcohol and drug abuse, and the abuse of antidepressants.

    In a statement, Pax said: "The policy does not cover psychological or psychiatric conditions, including PTSD. This exclusion is clearly defined in Pax's policy terms and conditions."

    An MoD spokesman said: "It is up to each service person to determine whether they need insurance and to decide which schemes best meet their needs. While the MoD neither endorses nor sponsors any commercial insurance scheme, all service personnel are made aware of the importance of having sufficient insurance cover to meet their particular circumstances."

    Source: Sunday Telegraph
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