Former soldier makes TV documentary


Geraint Jones

A FORMER soldier has made a documentary on the struggles servicemen face when they return from conflict.

John Evans, aged 34, of Bangor, directed the S4C film Cysgod Rhyfel (The Shadow of War) which reveals the experiences of Welsh servicemen.

He said: "I felt a sense of responsibility as a former soldier myself, and an obligation to highlight the issues surrounding the experience of war and mental health issues faced by soldiers who perhaps have not yet found a voice."

John, who now lives in Llangefni with his family, still suffers the after effects of battle, such as flashbacks, and found this an advantage when making the programme.

He said: “I very much understand their point of view; they didn’t feel embarrassed; they realised I knew more than most, and they were more open about it because I understood having been a soldier myself.

“The word 'heroes' get thrown about a lot in the media, but they really did do something heroic."

Bethesda man Ryan Roberts, aged 32, is one of the soliders who has suffered Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Ryan joined the army at 21 and after serving in numerous places including Afghanistan and Iraq, he left the army at 27 and is now leading instructor at the Military Preparation College in Bangor.

In the show Ryan describes seeing a boy being shot in Afghanistan, and the effect this had on his life.

He said: “I went back to university to get a teaching degree. I get nightmares, I get flashbacks but nothing is going to get me down."

John Evans said there was insufficient help for soldiers after they left the army, and that the programme underlined their need for support.

He said: "I think it’s easy to blame NHS or the government but there are issues embedded in the military – in its culture, its macho-ness.

"It makes it difficult for the guys to be open when they suffer as they fear they will appear weak.

“Society is also to blame also in the way it deals with and understands mental health issues. Stigma does not come from one place.”

Cysgod Rhyfel will be shown on S4C at 9pm on Sunday, May 18.

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