Youngest soldier sent to Iraq killed himself after horrors of war left

Coming back from Iraq I just felt sad all the time, I lost a friend out there and I didn’t really grieve till I got backKevin Williams Mr Williams deployed to Iraq on Operation TELIC 9, which saw some of the toughest fighting and involved 46,000 personnel at its peak. He had signed up when he was 16 after being inspired by watching soldiers on television, but was discharged from the army after failing a drugs test aged 22. Kevin Williams, then aged 17, met the Queen over a decade agoCredit:Alpha Photo Press Agency Ltd. He was particularly horrified when a charity put out a television advert of an ex-soldier “drinking in a bar, and instead of a guy they replace him with a weapon with the safety catch off. It is totally unacceptable and a complete abuse of my cohort”. He felt the public perception of the military is: “You’re either a hero, or you’re broken. Ninety-five percent of us are in the middle.”Commenting after the death of Mr Williams, a MoD spokesman said: “We are committed to tackling the stigma of mental health, and have launched our mental health and wellbeing strategy to improve our mental health services.”We have spent £20 million this year on mental health services and encourage anyone who is suffering to come forward to access the care and help they deserve.”We take the mental health of our veterans extremely seriously and work tirelessly to ensure they receive the care they deserve.” Mr Williams believed he suffered from PTSD. He reportedly suffered flashbacks and relatives said he would often talk about the war. His sister Katherine said: “A loud noise could go off and then you could see his mind shut down. All he could talk about then was the war.”The ex-soldier was being helped by charity Combat Stress before his death. Sue Freeth, the charity’s chief executive, said “every veteran’s death is a tragedy, and our heartfelt condolences go out to Mr Williams’ family”.Provision of mental health support to veterans has come under fire recently from Johnny Mercer MP. Speaking to The Telegraph earlier this month, the former army officer said “Some charities have gone way too far in painting the picture of veterans in the UK for their own ends, to raise money. The youngest soldier sent to Iraq killed himself after the horrors of war left him feeling “pretty much useless”, an inquest has heard. The body of Kevin Williams, 29, who deployed on his 18th birthday, was discovered by police near his home in Basildon, Essex, in March.He had struggled to adjust to civilian life after he left the army seven years ago.Essex Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray said: “I have come to the very, very sad conclusion that Kevin intended to take his own life.”Speaking to his family, the Coroner added: “It’s quite clear he was much loved and that shines through by you being here.”Mr Williams’ sister, Jennifer Williams, revealed in a statement handed to the coroner that the suicide was not unexpected. “Kevin’s death was a shock to us all and despite the pain of a great loss, we feel it would not be classed as a surprise” she said. After leaving he found it difficult to adapt to civilian life and talked of joining the Foreign Legion as he missed combat.In a short documentary recorded before his death he said: “Returning to civilian life was a big shock. The skills I learnt especially being in the infantry regiment was all combat based. I was pretty much useless.”Coming back from Iraq I just felt sad all the time, I lost a friend out there and I didn’t really grieve till I got back. I didn’t know how to handle normal everyday tasks, having that soldier’s mentality it makes you think you are stronger than this.” Kevin Williams, then aged 17, met the Queen over a decade ago “They do it because they are a business, because they want the money.” He accused charities of “specifically advocating” a narrative that “veterans are mad, bad and dangerous”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more