THE widow of a Christchurch rugby player who was found dead after going missing says she will not rest until she gets “justice” for her husband who was suffering PTSD after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan with the army.
The body of Jamie Davis (30), who played for Iford-based East Dorset RFC, was discovered on Saturday morning after members of the club had searched all night for him. He had disappeared from his home at 2.30pm the day before.
Posting on Facebook, his wife Alicia revealed that her husband had suffered severe PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder – after being badly affected by what he saw in Afghanistan and the death of a close friend during the war there. He also served in Iraq during his time as a soldier.
Mrs Davis said she now wants a meeting with Johnny Mercer, minister for defence people and veterans, to talk about how ex-servicemen like her husband, who was a rifleman with 4 Rifles, are treated for mental problems.
Her post to Mr Mercer said: “I would be more than happy for you to meet with me and we can discuss how the army and government could and should have helped not just my husband but the thousands of soldiers who need to receive help, I’m not going to let one more soldier go without help.”
Mrs Davis said she “will not rest” until she meets Mr Mercer and gets “justice” for her late husband.
She wrote: “Not resting until I meet him. I am sharing this so hopefully Mr Mercer can find me.”
Mrs Davis was also angry she had not known there was a minister who dealt with war veterans until Mr Mercer made a public apology over her husband’s death.
She said: “It’s disgusting. I had no idea that there was even a minister who dealt with ex-servicemen. He obviously isn’t doing his job.”
After hearing of Jamie’s death Mr Mercer had said he was “determined” to tackle the issue of PTSD, saying: “Any veteran suicide I take personally, and my thoughts are with Jamie’s friends and family at this time.
“I am determined to tackle this issue and I have instructed my team in the MOD to look at every single case to ascertain whether we could or should have done more, so we can learn lessons and put an end to this situation.”
Mr Mercer was appointed to the newly created role at the Ministry of Defence in July 2018. A graduate from Sandhurst, he went into politics after leaving the army because he was dismayed at the way veterans suffering from PTSD and other mental problems as a result of their service were being treated.
Mrs Davis revealed the news of her husband’s death on Facebook after his body was found in Totton. He was a popular member of East Dorset RFC where he played tight-head prop.
Following his death tributes poured in from the rugby world with club coach Chris Culleton saying: “We are all heartbroken.”
Mrs Davis, who has two sons with Jamie – Freddy (8) and Brandon (11), thanked those who had searched for her husband, saying: “Thank you so much for everyone who shared, spread the word and went looking for Jamie.
“It meant the world to me and his family. We are undoubtedly devastated and in disbelief.”
Mrs Davis added: “I have no words for everyone’s kindness, love and support. The boys wanted to say thank you for helping and loving their daddy.
“They at the moment are devastated but have been so brave.”
Speaking about a GoFundMe page which has been set up in Jamie’s memory Mrs Davis said she cried when she saw how much had been raised.
The page was set up by Morgan Edwards, captain of the women’s East Dorset RFC team, a close friend of the family who originally set a target of £3,500 which was reached within the first hour of it going live. It is now nearly £5,000.
Mrs Davis said: “Just absolutely in shock, I just can’t believe it, thank you everyone for sharing, contributing and the support.
“I just showed the boys how much daddy is loved and how if you are good and kind and caring it can touch people’s hearts.
“My youngest said he wanted to put his Christmas money in for his daddy.”
Mrs Davis said she intended Jamie’s funeral to be a celebration of his life, asking that all the men wear Hawaiian shirts and jeans, and the women should not wear black.
People who knew Jamie told Mrs Davis how much he was respected. Paul Rodwell, who is Dorset county training officer for the Army Cadets, said: “So sorry to hear this news. Jamie was one of my cadets at Wheatley. Enthusiastic and a role model for the young cadets at the detachment.”
A former soldier posted his condolences on Mrs Davis’s Facebook page. Hamish Whannell wrote: “Another veteran lost to mental demons. Rest in peace, soldier.”
To donate Jamie’s fund raising page visit www.gofundme.com/f/jamie-davis-memorial-fund.
Anyone who needs help or support can ring the Samaritans on 116 123.