From frontline in Afghanistan to breadline in Britain for Rifleman
RIFLEMAN Johnathan Leach claims he is less of a priority for rehousing than alcoholics and drug addicts.
The 27-year-old Quedgeley dad, who fought on the frontline in Afghanistan, is being made redundant from the Army and faces the prospect of homelessness before Christmas.
He needs a council house for him, his wife Laura, 22 – a stay-at-home mum – and three-year-old son Christopher. But he claims when he asked for help from Tewkesbury Borough Council, a worker there told him he would only be eligible for the "silver tier" waiting list.
He said he was told that only people with medical conditions, alcoholics and drug addicts are given "gold" status.
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Johnathan, a soldier with 1Rifles, said: "It is like sticking two fingers up to me. I can understand people with medical conditions must be a priority but drug addicts? It's just wrong."
Johnathan – who has served in Helmand Province in Afghanistan and tackled riots in Northern Ireland – will leave Beachley Barracks in Chepstow on December 11.
The Ministry of Defence has remained tight-lipped about how many 1 Rifles soldiers face redundancy, but Johnathan said up to 30 were set to go.
He has a new job as a delivery driver in Tewkesbury and is hoping to be rehoused in the borough.
He said: "I have done my bit. I was promised that as ex-forces you get help to be rehoused but I'm not the only one in this position. It's disgusting."
As a last resort, Johnathan will have to rely on charities Royal British Legion and SSAFA Forces Help, who may be able to contribute to a deposit for private accommodation. But Johnathan said he has no savings and cannot afford private rent.
Verna Green, Tewkesbury Borough Council's director of community, said: "It is important to note that while the homelessness banding criteria contains sections on medical need and disability, priority is not given to those with alcohol and drug issues.
"We will continue to work closely with Mr Leach and we have advised him on how to make a homeless application, which unfortunately cannot be any earlier than 28 days before he is due to leave the forces. In most cases, once an application has been received and an investigation carried out, if the individual is considered homeless, then gold banding is awarded."