Decorated British soldier who fought with the Prince in Afghanistan is found dead after complaining
Warrant Officer Nathan Hunt, 39, from Lincoln was found dead last week
He had served in Afghanistan in a British Army desert reconnaissance unit
WO Hunt told a friend in the Royal Engineers he was struggling to cope
His role was to identify roadside bombs as they crossed Helmand Province
He also described the care provided to him by the Army as ‘useless’.
A decorated British soldier who fought alongside Prince Harry in Afghanistan is believed to have killed himself after complaining to colleagues about the treatment he was receiving for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Married Warrant Officer Nathan Hunt, 39, was found dead last week after confiding to Royal Engineers colleagues that he was struggling to cope with the effects of battlefield trauma. He also described the care provided to him by the Army as ‘useless’.
The father-of-one protected Prince Harry when they belonged to a British Army desert reconnaissance unit. Warrant Officer Hunt’s highly dangerous role was to identify roadside bombs encountered by the elite force as they crossed Helmand Province on secret missions to ambush the Taliban.
Prince Harry served alongside Warrant Officer Nathan Hunt, 39 in 2008 while on a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Prince Harry spent two-and-a-half months in the deadly Helmand Province
After the nerve-racking tour in 2008, WO Hunt was awarded a Mention in Dispatches for his courage and professionalism. But the role also took its toll on WO Hunt, who was diagnosed with a combat stress condition caused by his frontline experiences.
Last night, Buckingham Palace confirmed that Prince Harry had written a private letter of condolence to WO Hunt’s family.
The Prince is committed to improving standards of mental healthcare for troops and last year launched a new £2 million project to help traumatised veterans.
But last night WO Hunt’s former colleagues accused the Ministry of Defence of letting him down. One said: ‘Nathan was a cracking bloke who saved a lot of lives in Afghanistan. He fought the demons in his head for years but it seems they won in the end. He said recently at a get-together for veterans that the care he was receiving for his condition was useless and he was thinking of getting out of the Army.
‘How many troops are going to die back in UK from the mental scars of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq before the MoD takes this problem seriously?’
When asked whether WO Hunt –whose most recent Army role was as an instructor – had lodged an official complaint about his treatment, the MoD said it did not comment on individual cases. An Army spokesman added: ‘Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. The circumstances of his death are currently being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment further
‘We take the mental health of the Armed Forces community extremely seriously and work tirelessly to ensure troops and veterans receive the care they deserve.’
WO Hunt’s family declined to comment last night.
Disturbingly, the number of troops suffering from conditions such as PTSD has nearly doubled in the past ten years. In 2007, just 1.8 per cent of regular soldiers were diagnosed with mental health conditions triggered by battlefield experiences. Last year, the figure had jumped to 3.2 per cent – around 2,500 troops – yet defence officials have refused to acknowledge the problem is getting worse.
Instead, the MoD attributes the rise to ‘the successful effect of campaigns to reduce stigma, resulting in an increase in mental health awareness’. Soldiers diagnosed with mental illnesses are offered psychiatric treatment, drugs and, for the most serious cases, residential care. Since 1995, more than 400 serving personnel are believed to have committed suicide.
The Mail on Sunday understands that WO Hunt’s condition had been a significant factor in his separation last year from his wife Elaine, 41, from Barnard Castle, County Durham. His former colleagues have pledged to raise funds to support the couple’s young daughter. The exact circumstances of WO Hunt’s death remained unclear last night but his body was discovered at an address in his home city of Lincoln on January 2. An inquest is expected to open later this month.
WO Hunt’s death is the second tragedy to hit Prince Harry’s desert squad. Corporal James Dunsby, 31, belonged to the same unit. He died after collapsing during a Special Air Service selection march in the Brecon Beacons in 2013.
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