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  • Christina Drummond

Private David Forshaw, the Lancastrian and Cumbrian Volunteers

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2007 Private David Forshaw, the Lancastrian and Cumberland Volunteers, took his own life, a year after returning from serving two back-to-back tours of Iraq. On the last tour whilst driving lead in a convoy, his vehicle went over an IED, Private Forshaw was unscathed, but his three passengers were injured. The story of that incident is told here: The Australian Colonel that the convoy was transporting wrote to Private Forshaw thanking him for how he helped the injured out of the burning truck - in the letter the colonel praises him as "a very solid soldier, a brave man, and a credit to your regiment, army and your country." A gregarious, fun-loving man, he was proud to serve his country; he had always wanted to join the regular Army, but was barred by his dyslexia so he joined the Territorials instead. On his return from Iraq he could not settle back into civilian life, all he wanted was to return there or to Afghanistan, but his efforts to go back as a soldier or private security contractor were repeatedly frustrated: what he wanted was to live a life of real purpose.

Hundreds of reservists returned from combat in need of help; they suffer more than regular soldiers because the transition from military to civilian life is so abrupt, they are less prepared for the horrors they encounter and lack adequate support networks. Reservists suffered higher rates of depression and PTSD than regular soldiers, and they find it harder to adjust to being back home. Combat Stress, a charity that helps traumatised servicemen, believes that the true scale of the problem has yet to emerge because it can take soldiers years to realise that they need help. The average veteran takes 13 years between leaving the services and getting in touch with them. Some men who return are better placed than others in that they have comrades to whom they can talk in ways they cannot with their families or workmates.

Private Forshaw, like many reservists, was sent to Iraq with strangers, and on his return did not have friends who had shared the same experiences. Sadly, no-one from the Territorials or the MoD contacted him to see if he was coping with the transition to civilian life, and he was not the sort of person to share his problems with others. David was 32 years old.

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