10 November 2015
A time to remember
"This time of year brings to
mind for all of us the cost of war and conflict. As someone who
served in the British Infantry, I saw at first hand the damage to
soldier's lives and to their families of being in conflict
situations and suffering loss. There can be many types of loss. I
remember having to break the news to a mother as duty officer, that
her son had been killed not on operations, but as a result of an
accident. The loss to her was immeasurable and will remain with her
for the rest of her life. Her shock and distress will remain with
me for the rest of mine. Bereaved families need our help.
I also have vivid memories of one shooting incident in Ireland
when two of my soldiers were shot whilst protecting school
children. One nearly died but was saved by a quick thinking
corporal friend who stopped the bleeding. He lost his leg, but
fortunately with help from the British Legion and a Regimental
charity, lives and works on with his family. This soldier's scars
are very obvious, but others have scars which are not so visible to
us. Another of my soldiers was shot in the back and although
recovered to serve on, the physical injuries mean he now suffers
from chronic conditions at an age when most of us would be fit and
well. He needs our support too.
As staff working in a Mental Health Trust, we are also aware of
the other kinds of internal damage, which could be seen as a loss
of some kind. There is loss of memory, loss of confidence leading
to depressions, addictions and phobias and a loss of mental
ability. Soldiers can experience post-traumatic stress, which can
involve recurring nightmares and irrational fears. I myself
suffered mild PTSD, but with help from friends and organisations
like the British Legion, came out of it.
Now I make myself available throughout Somerset and Wiltshire as
a British Legion caseworker. I go into the homes of ex-servicemen
and their dependents to help them, usually long after their period
of service. I recently saw a man who had been in Burma fighting the
Japanese with the "Forgotten Army" and experienced terrible
conditions, all he needed were some adaptions in the house, which
could not be provided by Social Services to allow him to get around
and be helped by his family. A small amount of money was soon made
available and his life has been enhanced.
So although Remembrance Day has passed, I encourage all of us
who understand loss and who have suffered mentally and physically,
to support Service Charities, so we can help service men and women
to get themselves back to normal and live productive lives."
Information on how AWP can
help you with Post Traumatic Stress can be found here.
Information on the South West Veterans'
Mental Health Service can be found here.
If you have a story or interesting perspective on mental
health care and related issues that you'd like us to consider for
publication, why not drop us a line at email@example.com