ALMOST three decades have passed since Kevin Muldoon quit the Army...but the nightmares caused by the horrors he witnessed haven’t gone away.

The Linwood man, who did five tours of duty in Northern Ireland and served in the first Gulf War, suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

However, life has taken a turn for the better after he reached out to Help for Heroes.

The military charity has seen an increase in demand for support during the Covid pandemic from ex-servicemen and women who are ‘trapped’ at home and have no-one else to turn to.

Veterans of conflicts such as the Falklands and Afghanistan now battle daily with flashbacks and nightmares of their time under fire.

Kevin, 64, joined the Army in 1975 and was a corporal in the Royal Corps of Transport before quitting in 1994.

He became a long-distance lorry driver but, three years later, suffered a breakdown while at home with his wife and family and was later diagnosed with PTSD.

That same year, he tried to take his own life by jumping from the Erskine Bridge but was saved thanks to a suicide prevention device.

Kevin told The Gazette: “When you have PTSD, your brain does not give you a break.

“I know what people go through at a time like this because I have been there myself.

“When I was in Northern Ireland, I saw things that shouldn’t happen – people shooting at you or throwing petrol bombs.

“It has given me nightmares for the rest of my life.

“When I was in the Gulf, I went grey-haired overnight but, at that time, you were just expected to get on with it.”

The Gazette: Kevin served with the Royal Corps of Transport for 19 yearsKevin served with the Royal Corps of Transport for 19 years

Kevin spent two years receiving treatment at a hospital in North Wales and was able to return to work.

For the next 15 years, he lived a normal family life in Linwood until he suffered a recurrence of PTSD in 2014 and developed a serious drink problem.

Kevin was treated at Rosendael Veterans Residence, in Broughty Ferry, Dundee, and now lives in a veterans housing complex in Cranhill, Glasgow.

Following his second relapse, his marriage broke up and he lost contact with his three children.

“There is help for veterans but many don’t know it is there,” said Kevin.

“They don’t need to suffer in silence or feel any shame for what they are going through.

“One phone call to Help for Heroes changed my life for the good. It has been a godsend for me.”

Thanks to support from the Help for Heroes team, Kevin hasn’t touched alcohol in the last year.

“It’s the best thing that I’ve ever done,” he said. “It was going to kill me, the drinking.

“I’ve too much to live for now. My sisters and brothers are all talking to me, whereas before they didn’t want to know.”

Kevin also visits his elderly mother in Linwood once a week.

Duane Fletcher, a retired Lieutenant Colonel who is now a Help for Heroes clinician, said many former service personnel like Kevin are continuing to “bottle up” their grief.

“Thirty years ago, there was a stigma that people were being weak if they had mental health problems,” added Duane.

“It’s now more open in society and people appreciate you can have mental health issues from a variety of things.”

Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of the end of the first Gulf War.

The conflict was halted on February 28, 1991, following the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm, when Allied forces pushed Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi troops into a retreat from neighbouring Kuwait, which they had invaded the previous August.

Almost 50 British personnel were among the fatalities, although the effects of the seven-month conflict have also been felt by many of those who served.

Veterans have told of battling with depression, divorce and harrowing flashbacks but many refused to seek help because it was not the “manly thing to do” at the time.

The Gazette: Duane Fletcher, now retired, treated Kevin at a British field hospital during the first Gulf WarDuane Fletcher, now retired, treated Kevin at a British field hospital during the first Gulf War

Duane said: “Thirty years ago, you were weak [sharing feelings].

“People wrapped it up and kept it locked away, instead of dealing with it.”

Kevin, who was treated by Duane in a British field hospital during the Gulf War, admits he ignored his problems before turning his life around by getting in touch with Help for Heroes two years ago.

He now hopes that, by speaking out, it will help other veterans to seek support.

“I never bothered with help,” said Kevin. “People were phoning me but I was drunk, not interested.

“I’ve been that man that sat in my house, got the booze delivered and you just go down and down and down.

“You relive it, you’re actually there, you smell it, you can feel it, you can touch it, you can taste it – and that came back again.

“Quite a few people I know have taken their own life. I just thought ‘I’m not putting my family through that any more.’

“One phone call to Help for Heroes and the floodgates opened. It’s been nothing but good news. It’s been a revelation.”

Any former military personnel who need help can visit for details of the support available to them.