A former Army sniper who once held the World record for the longest kill in combat has admitted his struggles with PTSD have left him battling suicidal thoughts on a daily basis.
Sergeant Craig Harrison completed ten tours in a 23-year military career with the Household Cavalry, Blues and Royals, operating in the likes of Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
He was medically discharged in 2013 after being diagnosed with complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – and his mental health has continued to deteriorate.
Craig made headlines in November 2009 when he saved the lives of his comrades by taking out two Taliban insurgents at a range of 2,475 metres – or 25 football pitches – to set a World record for the longest confirmed sniper kill.
But in an emotional interview with the Veterans’ Foundation, he now says that record has not only caused him ‘nothing but misery,’ but it’s one of many frontline experiences that have left him contemplating suicide on regular occasions.
“I saw and did a lot of things,” said Craig, “and for many years I was able to lock them away and not think about them.
“But after I was blown up by an IED while serving in Afghanistan, I suffered a brain injury and everything just seemed to flood out. I was struggling to control my emotions.
“I remember I was taking a lot of pain killers, I was constantly fatigued and I kept crying over the simplest things. My wife, Tanya, noticed it first. She noticed my isolation, my irritability, the fact I wasn’t sleeping at night. And I’d daydream – but I’d daydream about the s**t, the stuff that I’d seen. It crippled me.”
It was at that point the Army noticed a change in Craig’s behaviour and he was sent away for tests. The results concluded that he was suffering with complex PTSD – a condition that led to him being medically discharged from the Army.
“I spent 23 years in service and it took half-an-hour to be kicked out,” added Craig.
“I was rock bottom. I couldn’t get any lower. I took a hand gun and I had every intention of killing myself. But my dog, Betsy, was in the room and she looked at me and I couldn’t go through with it. She saved my life.
“But I still think about suicide all the time. I wear a mask, trying to hide my issues, but sometimes the mask slips. I’m sorry that it slips, but it does.”
A lifelong enthusiast of the outdoors and the environment, Craig decided to set up a bushcraft centre and in 2021, opened the Maverick Survival School. It is, says Craig, a place where attendees can learn, talk and share experiences.
“I’ve had some fantastic feedback from some of those who’ve attended the school,” said Craig. “Lots of those who come struggle with mental health and while I’m not suggesting a weekend in the woods can fix every problem, it clearly helps.
“When I come back home after a few days at the school, my wife always says I’m like the old me. I stink of wood smoke, but I have a big smile on my face. But it doesn’t last long. My PTSD soon kicks back in.”
* You can find the full interview the Veterans’ Foundation conducted with Craig here:
** If you’d like to help heroes like Craig, you can do so by playing the Veterans’ Lottery. Details can be found here:
*** Craig has written about his career in a best-selling book, The Longest Kill. You can buy a copy here: