Disabled war vet battling cancer fears he’ll be homeless after benefits axed

A disabled war veteran battling cancer fears he will end up homeless after his benefits were cut when he was declared "fit for work".

George Brodie, who fought in the first Gulf War, says his six years in the Army left him with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and serious health problems.

The former combat engineer was dealt another blow when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Declaring the Armed Forces Covenant a "lie", the 52-year-old says he has struggled for 25 years on benefits and could now lose everything after the DWP axed his benefits, the Daily Record reports.

George, from Livingston, West Lothian, stands to lose about £500 a month when his disability benefits are cut and he is forced onto jobseeker’s allowance.

He has received disability benefits since 1993 and also got employment and support allowance (ESA) in recent years.

George was told his housing benefit will also be affected by his “fit to work” declaration.

The former sapper claimed his shocking treatment proves the Military Covenant – a promise from the nation that those who have served are treated fairly – was utter nonsense.

He said: “The Military Covenant is a lie. For a while after I came out of the Army, I was homeless. I eventually got my house and that really saved my life.

“My home is the only place where I feel really safe and now I could lose everything.

“I have no idea what to do and where to turn. It is a total nightmare. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do.

“I have struggled to get by for 25 years on these benefits and my health has been deteriorating the whole time to the point where I am struggling to look after myself.

“Is this how Scotland and the UK look after their veterans?”

George served with the Royal Engineers before leaving the Army in 1992.

As well as cancer, he suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, epilepsy, asthma and Gulf War syndrome – a medical condition affecting many veterans of the 1991 Gulf War that is characterised by fatigue, chronic headaches and skin and respiratory disorders.

Medics are unsure of its origin but it has been attributed to exposure to pesticides, vaccines and other chemicals.

George said: “I had a medical assessment for the benefits agency four weeks ago. It was the first one for years.

“When I turned up, the person said, ‘You look fit and well’. It was as if it had all been decided before I even showed up.

“It is an utter disgrace. How is this any way to treat anybody, let alone somebody who served their country?

“Then I got a letter on Thursday stating I am fit for work, my disability benefits have stopped and I have to find a job or claim jobseeker’s allowance.

“I struggle to feed myself and I seldom leave the house due to chronic fatigue, insomnia and depression.

“I just sit in here and keep myself to myself. Now, I have this massive amount of stress and I may have to try to find work.”

George’s Hodgkin’s lymphoma has been diagnosed at stage 3, which means the cancer may have started to spread into surrounding tissues and there are cancer cells in the lymph nodes.

He said: “The Army missed it. I was given six months to live in 1993. The chemo saved me but it caused epilepsy.

“I was diagnosed with COPD and Gulf War illness, along with post-traumatic stress disorder, soon after and I was awarded a war disability pension at 60 per cent disabled in 1994.

“I have been getting incapacity benefit since 1994 and have been struggling to cope with all the conditions such as epilepsy, chronic fatigue, insomnia and nausea, to name a few – all of which are Gulf War related.

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“It is bad enough dealing with that, then you get hit with this news about the benefits and everything else. It throws your world upside down.

“I was homeless for a year and I don’t want that to happen again. I feel lost and don’t know where to turn.”

Former King’s Own Scottish Borderers sergeant Calum MacLeod joined forces with SAS TV star Colin MacLachlan – who appeared in Who Dares Wins – to launch charity Who Dares Cares for PTSD sufferers.

He said: “This is a shocking state of affairs. It is completely unacceptable that people are cast aside after they have served their country. George is one of many who feel that the Military Covenant is an empty promise.

“We never forget our own and will see what we can do for him.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: “We deeply value the service of our veterans and provide special provision for them and their families through the Armed Forces Covenant.

“We’re committed to ensuring that disabled people get the right support that they need.

“Decisions for ESA are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.

“Anyone who disagrees with a decision can appeal.”

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