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Army focus on support for stammering

nlieckfeldt | 12.08.2014

A soldier has spoken out on British Forces Broadcasting Services about his experience of military life with a stammer.

Corporal Emmanuel Ottih, who currently serves with 2 Medical Regiment in Hohne Garrison, Germany, was interviewed by Amy Matthews for BFBS News.

During the interview Corporal Ottih described his personal journey from joining the Royal Logistics Corps in December 2005.Corporal Emmanuel Ottih (image courtesy of BFBS)

He said that during his 9 years as a soldier, his condition had created some difficult moments and that he had been frequently misunderstood, but that the turning point had been attending speech therapy at the City Lit in London, when he had accepted that while there was no ‘cure’, there was a lot he could do to manage the condition and speak with more ease. He also praised the Army for giving him time-off and funding to do the therapy.

Earlier this year Corporal Ottih launched the British Army Stammerers’ Society (BASS), a closed forum hosted on Facebook for anyone in UK Defence with the condition. He now administrates online conversations between a small but growing group of military and civilian personnel in his spare time.

He is also co-founder of the Defence Stammering Network, with WO1 Jimmy Lang, RSM of 243 Field Hospital, and Walter Scott, communications manager in the Defence Reform Unit (DRU).Corporal Emmanuel Ottih (image courtesy of BFBS)

The network is open to anyone in Defence, fluent or dysfluent, with an interest in the condition that affects 1% of adults worldwide. It operates on the Defence Gateway through Jive networking software hosted by the Army Information Systems team.

WO1 Jimmy Lang, co-founder of the Defence Stammering Network, said:

“Corporal Ottih has shown true courage and resilience, not just in dealing with the demands of the service life, but in actively speaking out to promote awareness about the challenges of this condition. He has also displayed leadership in creating support for others through social media, a valuable start in an area with potential for greater levels of support in future.”

Walter Scott, co-founder of the Defence Stammering Network, said:

"Corporal Ottih is a shining example of how people who stammer can approach their condition and the associated stigma openly and with attitude. It is hugely inspiring for me, as a civil servant who has stammered since childhood, to be able to work with Corporal Ottih and WO1 Lang on this condition which is all too easily misconstrued and mishandled by society.”

Later this month WO1 Lang will deliver a keynote speech to the British Stammering Association (BSA) annual conference in Glasgow, about his personal 18-year journey from initial recruitment up to Regimental Sergeant Major, and getting the Defence Medical Services Training Group affiliated to the BSA Employers Stammering Network earlier this year.

You can watch the interview with Cpl Ottih on http://www.forces.tv/40624176.