What we do / Our Stories / Jay Saunders

Jay Saunders

Categories: PTSD

Jay, 52, lives in Gosport, Hants. He was a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy for 23 years.

In 2014, Jay was sent at short notice to Sierra Leone to help deal with the Ebola epidemic. When he came home after nearly 3 months he didn’t realise how much the experiences had changed him. Eventually, a civilian medical officer referred him for support and he was diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Jay feels that veterans are always stereotypical in TV dramas and in films – especially those with PTSD.

He says, “Veterans are always stereotypical in TV dramas and in films – especially those with PTSD. They are automatically a danger to society, a loner who can’t socially interact. They’ll wear drab olive clothes, hit the bottle, and turns to violence.

“This may be true for a minority of people with PTSD, but it’s not how I experience it. If I’m triggered, I shut down into a zombie-like state and end up curling up in a foetal position. Indeed, everyone with PTSD will experience it in different ways, but on screen it is always the same stereotype – so production companies and writers need to show a much bigger picture of what PTSD can look like.

“It’s always very different from the way they write about any other member of society who has PTSD, such as a medical health worker. That's the perception that's out there, that veterans with PTSD, when they get triggered or get agitated, they will automatically turn to violence.”

“When I was using an online dating app I told someone I had PTSD and they said that they would report me as they believed people with PTSD are a risk to women."

“For me, this shows the importance of myth-busting the clichés to change this kind of misconception and unfairness. I believe it can be done, while still being exciting for TV/film audiences. It happened in an episode of Star Trek Discovery when a crew member had PTSD from being abused as a prisoner of war. The way he disassociates and shuts down is dramatic, but very different to the angry reaction we normally see portrayed.”

Battling Veteran Misconceptions

Battling Veteran Misconceptions

If a television drama or film features a veteran, it’s almost guaranteed they will post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. And they will not be managing their condition well. 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.

Read more - Battling Veteran Misconceptions
Media Guidelines

Media Guidelines

We are convinced that the one dimensional media portrayal of veterans is a huge contributing factor to a negative stigma. We encourage people working in the media to think about these guidelines when creating a story featuring a veteran.

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The real story of veterans’ mental health

The real story of veterans’ mental health

Mental health has received a lot of positive attention in recent years.  Sadly, this isn’t yet reflected in how the mental health, of the veteran community is portrayed in the media or valued in society, especially when it comes to PTSD.

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Kev Gray

Kev Gray

"We’re told to talk out about mental health, but it backfires on us. We have a lot to offer, but if TV and film continue to only show us as damaged goods nothing will change."

Read more - Kev Gray
Trevor Cowell

Trevor Cowell

“All I can recall seeing were veterans who had a screw loose, unstable, with drink problems and who flew off the handle at the slightest thing. I didn’t want the label that PTSD would give me, as I felt people would assume I would be like the veterans they and I had seen on TV"

Read more - Trevor Cowell
Annette Laurie

Annette Laurie

“It’s nearly always men who are shown with PTSD and, even then, unrealistically. I would like to see more women portrayed with PTSD and, not as violent individuals, but as normal people with psychological issues"

Read more - Annette Laurie
David Dent

David Dent

“There's a segment of television and media that will portray people in a negative light. They tend to portray veterans as someone who has got a problem, and I think this creates a degree of unconscious bias in some employers, health care professionals, social services and society in general."

Read more - David Dent
Armed Forces & Veterans Support

Get support for wounded veterans and families

We’re here when you need us, whether you’re a Veteran of our Armed Forces or currently serving, a family member or loved one.

Read more - Get support for wounded veterans and families