Widow calls for soldier who died by suicide to be honoured on memorial
PUBLISHED: 19:00 28 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:33 31 October 2019
A widow has expressed her "anger and upset" after her husband's name was left off Britain's national war memorial despite serving in the army for 21 years.
Mandy Small, who works at Ipswich Hospital as a rehabilitation assistant, is campaigning to have the names of those who died after returning from the war added to the wall on the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, as these soldiers are currently not remembered by name anywhere in the country.
Mandy's husband Chris Small, who was originally from Colchester, took his own life in 2016 after suffering from PTSD and struggling to cope with civilian life.
He voluntarily retired from the service in 2014 after serving in the Royal Logistics Corps, including tours of Iraq, Bosnia and Afghanistan.
The petition was launched two days ago by Jo Dukes, who is a widow of military veteran David who took his own life, and aims to see the names of all soldiers who served being recognised.
Mandy, who is campaigning alongside Jo, said: "There is no reason why Chris' name shouldn't be on there along with everyone else. He served with honour for his country and being a soldier was all he ever knew.
"If he hadn't served in the army he would've still been here."
The issue came to light after Mandy, who works at Ipswich Hospital as a rehabilitation assistant, noticed a post on social media where someone said that a veteran who died by suicide shouldn't be on the National Memorial Arboretum with soldier's who died on the battle field.
The 41-year-old continued: "Recently it has been all over social media claiming that there is no stigma surrounding mental health, but to have these names separated from soldiers who died on the battle fields, it seems like they are embarrassed by it."
Chris retired in 2014 and the couple split in 2015 after their marriage "went downhill".
"I served for 12 years myself so I know just how hard it can be to witness the horrible deaths," added Mandy.
"The last tour Chris did was Afghanistan, and even when he got off the bus I could see in his eyes that he was a completely different person to the man I waved off."
Mandy continued: "I was walking on egg shells and it became really difficult. But he was still Jamie's dad and I never stopped loving him."
Mandy says her son Jamie, who is 11-years-old and has turned the tragedy of his father's suicide into an inspiring tale of hope, doesn't understand why his father's name is not on the memorial.
For the Small family it would be huge for Chris to be honoured for his service.
The petition has already received more than 400 signatures, but it needs more than 10,000 by April 2020 in order for the government to respond.
What does the Ministry of Defence say?
Johnny Mercer, the new minister for defence people and veterans, said that this is something he is willing to explore as he is aware of the conversations Jo Duke has had with the National Memorial Arboretum.
He said: "I think this is a really difficult issue, and I think my heart goes out to her when I hear of her experience. I have a lot of sympathy with her view, and not only hers, but of those who have lost individuals to suicide.
"In the weeks ahead I'll be looking into it and I'll try to engage on those discussions that they've had with the National Memorial Arboretum."
Mandy and Jo are asking for the names of any ex soldiers who died by suicide, and those who have returned from battle with physical injuries which later claimed their life, to be honoured in the same way as those who died on the battle field.
They say "it is no different" and believe that the option should be given to the soldier's next of kin.
You can sign the petition and read more about it here.