AN Army veteran is aiming to provide traumatised soldiers with the emotional support they need at a new drop-in service in Burnley.

Keith Shepherd, who spent more than 20 years in the Army and Territorial Army (TA), has teamed up with another ex-service-man to launch SALUTE (Soldiers Assisted Leaving Uniform Together Empower).

Initially, the service will include a drop-in centre in Burnley Wood, where serving soldiers and ex-servicemen will be able to speak to people who have experienced war about how they are feeling or any worries they might have.

Sixty-one-year-old Keith joined the Army when he was 21 and completed two tours of Northern Ireland with the Royal Corps of Transport before spending more than 20 years in the TA’s Royal Engineers unit.

He said soldiers need more access to those who can empathise with their feelings.

He said: “When I was in Northern Ireland I didn’t come home for three years and I lost four good mates.

“When I came home I went into town with my mum and jumped in a doorway when I heard a bang.

“People look at you because they don’t understand and it isn’t until you speak to other soldiers that you realise something is wrong.”

With help from Coun Jeff Sumner, Keith has secured a property in Dall Street, which will house the drop-in centre from January 7.

Between 4pm and 9pm every Thursday, Keith and another ex-serviceman will offer advice and information.

The overall aim is to establish SALUTE as a registered charity in the future.

According to Keith, who lives with his wife Eileen in the Rosehill area, there is a need for the service in Burnley to take the strain off the Royal British Legion.

Coun Jeff Sumner said: “We were glad to help. We were able to offer Mr Shepherd the use of the building we use for our surgeries to get him up and running.

"By mid-March we are hoping we will be able to set him up in the community centre.”

For details call Keith on 01282 830932.