Troops claimed they were ‘drinking to cope’ with the pressure of military life or to ‘fit in’ with the culture. Some 800 women have received treatment for drink problems
Almost 10,000 troops have been treated for booze abuse in the past decade, sparking fears of an alcohol “timebomb”.
Shocking data uncovered by the Sunday People revealed more than 1,000 personnel were allowed to serve while classed as dependent on drink.
And some 800 women within that figure – covering Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force – have received treatment for drink problems.
One decorated former war hero admitted: “The alcohol culture is huge.”
The research, revealed via freedom of information requests, also showed one in 10 serving personnel – around 14,000 –drinks at “harmful” levels, typically exceeding 25 pints of lager weekly.
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And troops’ wives down almost twice as much as civilian counterparts.
The problem has blighted personnel when they leave service.
Some 10% of veterans – around 220,000 – booze at dangerous levels in comparison to 6% of the population.
Troops claimed they were “drinking to cope” with military life or to “fit in”.
Medical files pointed to twice as many soldiers than sailors or airmen getting treatment for misuse.
Trevor Coult, a former Army staff sergeant who won the Military Cross in Iraq, said he was drinking excessively to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The 47-year-old, from Suffolk, added: “Almost all of the social life is based around booze. “
My drinking became very heavy after I returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I would often drink up to eight or nine pints a night when I was really struggling to cope with PTSD.”
Dr Nick Murdoch, formerly of the charity Care After Combat, said: “The way ahead is education and discipline.”
The People’s Save Our Soldiers campaign is calling for an overhaul of how the MoD deals with personnel and veterans’ mental health issues, especially the effects of PTSD.
The MoD said: “We have introduced measures to reduce alcohol misuse. These include awareness campaigns and harm reduction service initiatives.”
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