A CROWDFUNDING appeal has been set up to pay to train an Army veteran to help tackle the problem of alarming suicide rates among former troops.

Sam Smalldon, from Taunton, who was in the Royal Engineers, hopes learning to be a psychological first aider will teach him how to spot the warning signs of ex forces personnel at risk of taking their own lives.

The one-time Sapper would then assist them in accessing the correct professional help to avoid more tragic losses.

Sam, who as Sergeant at Mace at Taunton Deane Borough Council attends the Mayor at ceremonies, needs to raise £750 to pay for the Immediate Care Assessment and Rehabilitation for Uniformed Services (ICARUS) training - you can support him at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sam-icarus

He said: "Three guys in Somerset took their own lives in the last couple of months and there were 79 suicides of British military veterans and serving personnel in 2018.

"It's so wrong. They've given so much for their country and they and their families aren't getting the support they deserve.

"In the Army, they're taught how to fight, survive and deal with things, but they're not taught how to cope on their return to civvy street. They have to fend for themselves.

"There are 9,000 veterans living rough in the UK, including a lot in Somerset."

Many of those are suffering post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is estimated to affect one in six people in the forces.

Sam was involved in the setting up of Victory House by Taunton Association for the Homeless (now ARC) early last year to provide housing for former troops living on the streets.

He said: "I'd like to see another place like that somewhere in Somerset where we can get these guys off the streets and get them the help they need and allow them to access the benefits they're entitled to.

"A lot of these people are too proud to ask for help. Part of my training would enable me to spot the danger signs.

"I'd learn how to speak to these people, help them cope and find the proper professional care they need."

Sam, who served in Northern Ireland and The Falklands, added: "It's not just about the veterans - it's supporting their families as well.

"Can you imagine the partner of a veteran being woken up in the middle of the night by them shouting and screaming and going absolutely ballistic?"

Sam intends to establish a support network pointing serving and former service personnel in the direction of of immediate and urgent treatment and/or therapy in the event of a mental or medical crisis.