A soldier’s fight for tripping compensation

A soldier who was left permanently paralysed after an accident while he was on duty during the Iraq war is fighting for more compensation after complaining of his treatment from the Army.

Paratrooper Gary Gelder was left paralysed after an accident when he was serving in Kuwait. He tripped over a sandbag which he claims was incorrectly placed. The 22-year-old soldier was in hospital for over two months as he damaged his spine in the accident. He is now registered disabled and is unable to work.

He was awarded just under £4,000 in compensation after the accident and was asked to leave his army home in Dover immediately. The father of two young children, and whose wife is expecting their third child, said: “People who have been killed out there have been treated like heroes. I am out of a job and I have been treated like dirt.”

Mr Gelder went on to talk about how his injuries have affected his life with his children. He said: “I can’t play football with my son and I can’t roll around the floor with him as a normal father would – I can’t take him to the park and play on the swings or slides. He’s only two years old and he doesn’t understand – some days he will just look at me and walk away.”

He was awarded £3,700 in compensation and an annual pension of £1,250 after an Army review board heard his case. But Mr Gelder believes this amount is far too low.

A spokesman for the Army said that the amount of compensation awarded to Mr Gelder had been decided by a review board made up of civilian and Army doctors, but said he was unable to comment on how the review board made their decision

A statement issued by the Army said: “Any soldier discharged from the British Army will be awarded a pension which is directly linked to the amount of service. Once the soldier is discharged from the Army, he will be eligible for financial assistance from the Veterans Agency if they consider his case is appropriate for a war pension.

Mr Gelder and his family have now written to the Prime Minister appealing for his help with their compensation claim.

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