If a television drama or film features a veteran, it’s almost guaranteed they will bring chaos and dysfunction at work and in their private life.

They will have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and they will not be managing their condition well.

Writers and producers seem obsessed with and stuck on a negative, one-dimensional portrayal of anyone who served in the Armed Forces.

Let’s not prolong the battle

Having worked with more than 27,000 veterans and family members, we know lazy on-screen stereotypes don’t show a full or accurate picture.

This is having a serious impact on people’s lives. Some veterans have told us they don’t leave the house if a TV series featuring a dangerous veteran is running. People are not getting the vital mental health support they need.

Employers are shunning veterans because they already have a negative picture of them in their minds.

A television drama needs drama of course. But in the hunt for viewing figures, we’re doing a massive disservice to people who risked everything for our safety.

The media would no longer treat one group of people in this way based on their religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. And of course, rightly so.

However, if someone has put on a uniform to serve our country, they are seen as fair game. People need to know that veterans are human beings and are no different from the rest of us.

Only seven per cent of veterans have PTSD

Conditions such as anxiety and depression are more common amongst those who’ve served.

Anyone with any mental health condition can recover and lead a positive, successful life.

We’ve produced guidelines to encourage the media to develop fair and balanced storylines.

We’d also like the media to talk to those with a lived experience, to create a realistic portrayal of Armed Forces characters.

What people see in TV series and films matters

In research carried out by YouGov, UK adults were asked for the first word or phrase they thought of when they were told to picture a veteran with PTSD. Nearly 60 per cent of respondents said burnt out. Other common responses were

  • unbalanced – 35 per cent
  • danger to themselves and others – 30 per cent
  • explosive – 29 per cent.

The same survey showed that 60 per cent of UK adults have no connection with the Armed Forces.

It’s time that those who served to keep us safe get the respect and kindness they deserve from society. That is not going to happen until they are portrayed fairly in the media.

What our veterans say

We spoke to five veterans; Kev Gray, Annette Laurie, Jay Saunders, Trevor Cowell and David Dent, all of whom suffer from PTSD, to hear their own experiences and views on how it is portrayed in the media.Read more about their stories below.

If you are a veteran or a family member and are struggling or have been affected by any of this, please do get in touch with our team.