A FORMER Herefordshire soldier has suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems, speaking out to describe a grim experience in the armed forces where she says "abuse was the norm".

Gemma Morgan, who lives in south Herefordshire, says she was hit by mental health problems after serving in the army between 1996 and 2002. She became the first woman to be awarded the Carmen Sword for best young officer in the Royal Logistic Corps in 1999.

She has appeared on the ITV programme Lorraine speaking about her experience, and told The Times in an interview last month: "Abuse was the norm. I wasn't cared for, but cast out."

After leaving the forces, Mrs Morgan became suicidal, and said she was "surviving on a cocktail of vodka, Valium and sleeping pills".

Now, she has written a memoir about what she went through, hoping to raise awareness of "toxic masculinity, misogyny and abuse" in the army.

Hereford Times: Former soldier Gemma Morgan with her bookFormer soldier Gemma Morgan with her book (Image: Rob Davies)

The book is called Pink Camouflage, and was published this year by Luath Press.

The publisher said: "Her husband found her by the roadside, delirious and choking on her own vomit. Gemma Morgan was 33 and happily married with children, an outstanding army service and a first-class international sporting career. But underneath she was a wreck. Misogyny, sexual abuse and toxic masculinity had been the daily realities of her career.

"When Gemma gave birth to a baby girl, motherhood left her lost, a soldier who had deliberately suppressed her femininity.

"Together, these experiences triggered a mental health crisis that led her to become suicidal, battling PTSD, betrayed by the institution to which she had devoted seven years of her life.

"With the support of her family, Gemma has been on a long, hard and bumpy road to recovery."

The British Army acknowledges that serving comes with "a unique set of challenges", with information about support for soldiers and veterans on the British Army website.

Commenting on the book's publication, a spokesperson for the British Army said: "We’re extremely sorry to hear of Gemma Morgan’s experiences whilst serving in the army, which were unacceptable. We are clear that this has no place in our armed forces and have implemented robust measures to drive forward change in the years since she left the service.

“We are committed to the army being a safe and supportive environment for all whilst retaining its edge as a first-class fighting force and have ensured effective mental healthcare support is available whenever and wherever needed, for both serving personnel and veterans.”


The publisher says Pink Camouflage is Mrs Morgan's story in her own words, and that "she has told it to inspire an urgent call for change".

Mrs Morgan was born in Wales, and after her career in the military and as an athlete, is now a leadership coach and motivational speaker.

She's been given praise from celebrities including choirmaster Gareth Malone and ex-England football captain Terry Butcher, with Malone saying she "inspires with her vulnerability" and Butcher describing her book as a "fascinating insight into a macho, male-dominated world".