Steven Humphreys, left, with former army officer Ian Ward. Picture by Laura Holme.
A FORMER soldier wounded in the first Gulf War is fighting his toughest battle on the road to rehabilitation — to be properly re-housed.
Disabled Ryde man Steven Humphreys is being backed in his bid to be re-housed by former army officer Isle of Wight councillor Ian Ward, who has blasted the Isle of Wight housing policy, which he says is hampering his chances of getting it.
Steven, who lives in a one-bedroomed flat in Dover Street, was a Royal Artillery lance bombardier when he was seriously injured by a bomb in Iraq in 1991. It left him with shrapnel wounds in his back and post-traumatic stress disorder that led to his discharge from the army.
Steven then had a stroke in 2002, which left him unable to read, write or speak more than a word at a time. He also suffers panic attacks and holds an irrational fear he is being targeted by the IRA, following two harrowing tours in Northern Ireland.
Since his stroke, 47-year-old Steven’s pensioner parents, Arnold and Hazel, of Weston Lane, Totland, have been lobbying the Isle of Wight Council’s housing department to allocate him a small house with a garden to help with his psychological rehabilitation.
The council, which supports the government’s plans for a military covenant bill to help ex-servicemen, believes it has adequately prioritised his re-housing but is willing to discuss the matter with Steven’s parents.
However, Cllr Ward disagrees with how much the council says it can do for Steven.
"Ex-servicemen shouldn’t be disadvantaged because of their military service and it isn’t right such a disabled person is told he has no chance of getting social housing," argued Cllr Ward.
In a letter from a government department to Steven’s parents, it is said guidance to local authorities advises them to give ex-service personnel seriously injured or disabled in action high priority for social housing.
Mrs Humphreys, 74, said: "Steven served his country with distinction. He has many problems but he loves gardening and having place with a garden would help him. That’s surely not too much to ask."
Cllr Roger Mazillius, Isle of Wight Council cabinet member responsible for housing, believes the council aims to incorporate the review into its policy but warned the new covenant would not increase Mr Humphreys’s priority for re-housing.