Sam Sleith has terrible flashbacks….nightmares where he flails about in his sleep reliving gun attacks and bomb detonations.
Sam served in the UDR and twenty-seven years on from an ambush in the Markets area of Belfast, his frightening recollections flood back like a video with the button stuck on constant play.
His PTSD sees him on patrol after 11 pm. Gunfire is directed at them and a Lance Corporal colleague and friend is hit in the side of the face.
At first, it was thought he sustained a flesh wound, but hours later in hospital, medical staff discovered the injured soldier was full of shrapnel and that the bullet had come close to his spinal cord.
The legacy of that ambush has been life-changing and permanent.
Sam says: “ I won’t go to bed until after one o’clock because I know that if the sleeping tabled doesn’t work – you’ve a forty-five minute window for that to work – you’re up all night because everything is going through your head.
“I don’t know how many mattresses we’ve had to buy because of the sweating. You’d think somebody had come in and put a hose on you. You’re just absolutely soaked.”
Sam isn’t the only victim. His wife, Linda, can sometimes be the unintended victim of the night-time torment.
“The worst thing of all that I fear is that I attack her some nights in my sleep. I’ve nipped her, left bruises on her, I’m actually fighting,” explains Sam.
On the delayed Victims’ Payment Scheme, Sam offers this piece of advice to legislators: “Pay up! Just pay up! It’s not a fortune and we’re all dying off. It’s not forever. You know, people have died who should have been due a pension.
“It would make so much difference to some people’s lives, even if its £20 a-week. That’s a difference to somebody getting electric or gas. …..They (politicians) gave us the impression that it was signed, sealed and dusted, and now they’re quibbling over who pays for it.
“….I don’t know if anybody has worked it out, what it would be over the period of time, but you’re not talking billions or anything, you know, but the people who really deserve it are the innocent civilians who had absolutely nothing to do with it.”
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