THE Ministry of Defence has vowed to improve the training it provides to those dealing with vulnerable servicemen and women after a Bulford soldier took her own life in army barracks.
Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement was found hanged in her Wiltshire barracks in October 2011, two years after she alleged two soldiers had raped her while she was stationed in Germany.
Following an inquest into her death, which was held in Salisbury in March this year, coroner Nicholas Rheinberg called for the MOD to review its care of vulnerable soldiers after he ruled bullying, the lingering mental effects of an alleged rape, work-related despair and a relationship break-up were all factors in the 30-year-old’s death.
Responding to the concerns raised during the hearing, the MOD has announced it will introduce a series of measures in a bid to prevent future tragedies.
The changes include additional mental health training for welfare officers and an improved IT system to better monitor those identified as being at risk of mental health issues. Brigadier John Donnelly, director of army personal services, said: “We are working to make a number of improvements to ensure that the best possible support is in place for our people.
“We regularly review and update the training that a range of personnel receive, including our welfare officers, and are introducing a series of mental health study days so that our guidance is as comprehensive as possible.
“We will also be upgrading the IT system that helps the armed forces to manage and monitor those personnel identified as being at risk of mental health issues.”
He added: “Many of these changes reflect lessons learned from the inquest. Whilst some will take time to implement, we are committed to getting this right so we can help prevent this kind of tragedy in the future.” Welcoming the announcement Cpl Ellement’s family said the changes show she“did not die in vain”.
Cpl Ellement’s sister Sharon Hardy, who lives in Christchurch, said she hoped her sister’s death would highlight mental health issues within the armed forces and help improve the lives of other servicemen and women.