Tragic Mansfield veterans on Panorama show

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Two of Mansfield’s war fallen were featured in a BBC1 Panorama documentary on Monday night.

Ashley Clarkson and Lee Bonsall were both featured in the film, whose makers revealed the shocking statistic that 50 soldiers committed suicide last year while only 40 died in action in Afghanistan.

The two young men, from Mansfield and Warsop respectively, were both found hanged at their homes last March.

The programme crucially pointed out that in 23-year-old Iraq veteran Ashley Clarkson’s case the army never shared its medical notes on him with civilian GPs.

While Lee Bonsall (24), who served in Afghanistan, did not receive the help he needed because his medical notes were lost.

Another Mansfield veteran, Jason Rathbone, was featured in the programme alongside the Joint Forces Alliance - an ex-serviceman’s charity he runs.

Jason told Chad: “We have been featured on Panorama before - it is now three years ago and nothing has changed in that time.

“You cannot trust central government - they always say ‘they were looking forwards to coming out of the forces and to moving forward. It is the same story everywhere.

“Rather than admit there is a problem and do something they dismiss it and say ‘this is just what happens.’”

The Joint Forces Alliance (JFA) provides health and social support for veterans leaving the forces but Jason said there needed to be much better communication between commanding officers (CO) in the army and support agencies like the JFA.

In this way COs would share information about soldiers leaving the army.

Said Jason: “We need to bypass the MOD and sit down with a regiment’s commanding officer. What we suggest is the first month of their last year of service soldiers have to see a families officer.

“This way we would have a year to find them a place to live, help them find a job or assist with mental health problems or education needs. It is the only way forward.”