True number of UK troops damaged by war in Iraq and Afghanistan could be 75,000

The total number of British men and women left wounded or sick after wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could be almost 75,000 — and more than a quarter may develop mental health problems, Help for Heroes believes.

Freedom of Information Act data obtained from the Ministry of Defence by the charity shows that 220,560 troops were sent to Afghanistan and Iraq between January 2001 and March 2014.

Many of those deployed will have undertaken as many as seven tours, and 21,756 men and women were medically discharged from the British Armed Forces for a variety of physical and mental health reasons since wars began in 2001.

From statistical analysis, Help for Heroes estimates the total number of British men and women who may be left injured or sick following the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq may be as high as 74,991.

Of the 220,560 deployed, 59,992 — 27.2% — may develop a mental health issue at some point, the charity said.

The analysis pieces together both FOI data and the latest academic research.

Professor Neil Greenberg, the Royal College of Psychiatrists lead for military and veterans’ mental health, said there is considerable evidence that whilst “most sailors, soldiers and airmen remain resilient or indeed experienced personal growth as a result of their deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq overseas”, an “important minority” will have been negatively affected by their operational service.

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