Veterans suffering from mental health problems have been encouraged to seek help by the widow of The Railway Man, Eric Lomax.

To mark Armed Forces Day on June 28, Patti Lomax has pledged her support for Combat Stress, the mental health charity for veterans.

Combat Stress is supporting more than 800 ex-service personnel in Scotland yet, on average, veterans wait 13 years after discharge before seeking help, by which time their condition can be highly complex.

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Mrs Lomax knows first-hand the devastating impact of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Her late husband, Eric, wrote about his experience as a soldier and prisoner of war in his best-selling autobiography The Railway Man, which became a hit movie starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman. The book depicts Mr Lomax's experiences and the torture he was subjected to when he was captured by the Japanese during the Second World War.

"Eric was a good example of what happens when PTSD is left untreated," said Mrs Lomax. "I think it is so ­necessary that there is help available because if it is not treated it can blight not only the victim's life but their family's lives too. It was 50 years before Eric got any support and I do so wish I had known about Combat Stress in those days because it would have helped so much.

"Combat Stress is a won-derful organisation and without it many families would be in the situation that Eric and I found ourselves in - absolutely lost." She added that the message of both the book and the film was about the damage caused by untreated battle stress.

"That is a modern message - certainly for those coming back from Afghanistan. I know our military is trained for warfare but then actually being there or seeing someone blown to bits beside you or hearing it happen - the effect on the mind is very damaging."

To find out more go to or the 24-hour helpline on 0800 138 1619.