Monday, September 07, 2009

Soldiers and Children in Care.

Rene Magritte.

Listened to BBC Radio 5 this morning, on the program were a couple of former soldiers who were talking with the presenter Victoria Derbyshire about their experiences in the Army.

They mentioned the lack of support for them once they were civilians again and the importance of serving soldiers being able to talk with each other about the traumas they have experienced.

Both had suffered extreme trauma after witnessing the horrors of war, one young man had been out to Afghanistan 3 times and he was only just 24.

He sounded like a very hurt boy, instead of a young man with his life ahead of him.

He was a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode; they both said that everyday things could unexpectedly trigger off flashbacks.

One would often experience this when out shopping at the supermarket with his partner, he would have to get home as quick as possible then as he could not guarantee he could keep calm.

These two young men seemed to me, to be badly damaged by their time in the Army, one said he only felt alive in a war situation.

He could no longer relate to life as a civilian, work had been impossible as anything could trigger him off
He needed to respond like that as a soldier but not as a civilian, when working as a barman serving a pint of beer.

It is alarming how many soldiers suffer from post traumatic shock syndrome and who get no support.

Kids of 16 are accepted into army, with the very real prospect of getting brutalised, and there seems to be no widespread protests against this happening.

Why is it that we are happy to send our precious kids off like this.

The comparisons with boy soldiers in the African countries is very strong indeed, young kids being brutalised and encouraged to use alcohol and opiates to kill.

Heard today how the Army actively promotes alcohol to relieve tensions and soldiers usually use other drugs too

While they are soldiers they have everything taken care of for them but once they are no longer soldiers they have nothing to adequately facilitate their return to civilian life.

Ex soldiers have a very high suicide rate and a high drug dependency as well as high rates of domestic violence, as well as periods in prison and high rate of homelessness.

While I was listening to the soldiers and Victoria discussing the need for counselling and peer group support also for serving soldiers and wondering why there was no support from the Army.

Suddenly realised why the Army does not provide this, surely it would be like asking the Catholic Church to provide space for people to discuss their faith.

This is where I went wrong for years, wondering why the priest got so mad with me for asking questions.

Apparently you do not question faith and neither do you question loyalty.

Finally I understood why there are no provisions made by the Army for supporting serving soldiers.

Also heard Martin Neary from Barnados Children’s Homes, he is the former Director General of The Prison Service.

He wants to take more children into care before they need it, so basically he wants to incarcerate more kids.

Despite it being well known that kids in care have a high suicide rate that they are often physically abused by staff.

And end up being prostituted, with drug problems, and problems of self harming and violence.

The kids in question will be predominantly working class kids, kids of people that are no longer required as they are surplus to needs.

Now that there is little call for industrial workers, as so many manufacturing industries have been shut down and moved out of Britain..

To parts of the world where new work forces are being exploited for their cheaper labour, and eventually abandoned for more lucrative locations.

The consequences for the abandoned workers is a life with no prospect whatsoever of improving their lives.

They do however have the prospect of being worse of, than their parents were; basically they are doomed to a life on the margins.

They have become the dispossessed; who have nothing to look forward to except the escape of cheap alcohol, cigarettes and opiates.

For a lot of these communities increasingly the only way out is to join the Army.

Many do and find themselves in even worse situation once they are back home again.

The prospect of large numbers of vulnerable children being put into care system is an appalling one.

This radio program has given me a lot to think about it almost seems like the Care Homes are supplying the Army with youngsters who have no role in their own communities.

They desperately want a role in life and sign up for great chunks of their lives, lured with tales of training, travel and adventure.

You do not need any qualifications; you only need to pass the medical and answer a few questions, and if you are between 16 and 33 you can sign on as a soldier.

What a shame and a waste of human potential that could do so much good for their communities.

I really wish that worldwide there would be more importance placed on supporting life rather than destroying life and the planet with it.


Anonymous said...

Interesting Herrad, I totally agree with you. How many stories have we heard of homeless veterans of war who risked life and limb for our freedom? I knew a woman whose husband was a soldier who served 17 months in Iraq. He came home early because he fell out of a helicopter and broke his back. He was only 25 at the time. That family struggled because he suffered a handful of mental health disorders and couldn't even hold down the easiest of jobs...he not only had back problems, but only a small veteran's pension since he was "only" a soldier for a few years. She had little education and was raising 2 small children...probably headed right for the army or marines as well once they were of age because the woman always said that's the only way they could afford their education. It's really an injustice and sadly like a revolving door...

On a lighter note, I hope you are doing well this Monday! It's Labour Day here so the village is bustling with people mowing lawns, trimming hedges, chopping wood...It's chilly at 19 degrees so I can luckily keep my windows shut and have some quiet! Oh, I gave myself a manicure today, lol...I haven't painted my nails since my working days back in 2002!

robert said...

They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. — (Isaiah 2:4 & Micah 4:3)

Yes, I hope that it will happen. In Germany one is allowed to spend a year working either in a hospital or any other social institution, instead of entering the army. Am curious to see what my son will choose - no I did not wear any uniform in my life.

Herrad said...

Hi Rain,

Thanks for commenting, you are right it is like a revolving door isn't.
Too many damaged people who get even more damaged
Yesterday MS had to take a backseat once I heard the radio program.
I am better today, the sun is shining life is good.

Hi Robert,
We need ploughshares as food desperately needs to be grown and not war.
Glad you never wore a uniform, neither did my Dad.
Stefan I am sure will be too sensitrive and intelligent to w ant to have anything to do with war.

Have a good Tuesday.