Former SAS soldier Andy McNab has warned that Britain was sitting on a "timebomb" of future severe mental health problems among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
He predicted that without improved care a shocking number of those fighting in the "war on terror" would go on to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - and in some cases commit suicide.
The soldier-turned-writer also released a new survey revealing that two-thirds of UK adults think the Government's treatment of ex-servicemen and women is "disgraceful". Three-quarters believe care for veterans' psychological condition is "inadequate", and 49% would pay an extra penny in the pound of income tax to help returning service personnel with financial troubles.
Mr McNab tackles these issues in his new non-fiction memoir, Seven Troop, which looks at what happened to the men he served with in the SAS until 1993.
Two of the members of his unit have since killed themselves and a third is in prison after shooting his girlfriend dead.
NHS provision is "totally inadequate" for dealing with the estimated 15% of veterans who will suffer some form of PTSD, Mr McNab said.
He added: "Since I left the forces some 15 years ago, the situation for ex-service personnel simply hasn't improved. I've seen for myself the appalling way that our soldiers are hung out to dry.
"The idea held by the Government that the majority of service personnel experience a smooth transition into civilian life is delusional and largely false.
"Living in the outside world when discharged is very hard and many ex-Armed Forces personnel experience huge difficulties reintegrating. Years of service institutionalise men and women who are then thrust back into society with minimal co-ordination and long term support. There is a pervading sense of literally being 'thrown out of the club'."
Mr McNab stressed that responsibility for dealing with the problem lay with the Government rather than the Ministry of Defence (MoD). "The military are doing their bit but they are restricted by their funds," he said. "The system says once they (service personnel) leave, they are within the NHS system. There is this timebomb and the NHS won't be able to cope with it."