Islington veteran calls for more awareness of post traumatic stress disorder

An army veteran left on the brink of suicide after battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for more than 35 years is calling for more awareness of the condition in the run-up to Remembrance Day.

Ron Ranger, 69, of Dalmeny Avenue, Holloway, went AWOL for 11 months after witnessing the horror of the 1974 IRA bomb blast at the Tower of London which killed one woman and injured many people, including children.

Mr Ranger – a corporal in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers based at the Tower – was handed a boy with a spike impaled in his thigh.

The father-of-five, who also served in Germany, Libya and the Persian Gulf, said: “I heard the bomb and ran outside. There was still a door flying through the air. I got to the White Tower and I heard the children screaming.

‘I couldn’t cope’

“I was given a young boy with a spike through his leg.

“I just couldn’t cope and I can’t remember anything after that for six months. My wife didn’t even know where I was.”

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Mr Ranger, who was a school caretaker for 40 years after leaving the army and is now the chairman of the Islington Veterans’ Association, was later summoned to a court martial, but he was spared jail because doctors agreed he had suffered a breakdown.

But he remained deeply depressed for some 35 years despite numerous attempts to get help.

“I was a nasty sort of person. My wife went through hell. I used to be violent,” Mr Ranger said.

It was only after he told his wife, Josie, that he wanted to kill himself a couple of years ago that he was diagnosed with PTSD and treated for the condition.

Mrs Ranger said: “It was horrendous. I was so scared when he was suicidal. He said he just felt that life wasn’t worth living because inside he knew he wasn’t the person he was on the outside.

“When he was diagnosed with PTSD, we both had tears in our eyes. We knew there was something wrong with him. There was light at the end of the tunnel.

“What we need is understanding from everybody in society as well as the medical profession. “Only recently has PTSD been recognised as a problem. It has come a long way but there is definitely more to do.”

Though Mr Ranger still has flashbacks, he is on the way to recovery through medication and counselling and is “very happy”.

He is committed to raising awareness of PTSD and hopes others suffering in silence will read his story and seek help.

“I’ve lost a big part of my life. I want to enjoy what I’ve got left now,” he added.

For information on PTSD call Mind on 0300 1233393.

Read this week’s Islington Gazette for our special Remembrance Day feature including stories from other veterans.