30 Years On From The Falklands Conflict!
A greatly publicized fact at the moment is the fact we are marking the 30th year since the awful events in the South Atlantic and a great many (on both sides) losing their lives in The Falklands War. The News has reported on it and even magazine programmes like The One Show have have had articles on the subject. However, very few report on the unseen injury that has befallen so many in the years since.
The sad statistic that certainly shocked me when I first came across it is that although losses of personnel killed in action (KIA) remained relatively light at 255 (which of course is 255 too many), over 260 Falklands Veterans have taken their own lives since (Source: Combat Stress Summit in The House of Commons 15th July 2009). Similar statistics exist for the first Gulf War! So why do we continue to fail those who have fought for their country and go on to suffer the mental scars for years afterward?
Of course you have the individual themselves. The person for whom it would be abhorrent to admit they have a problem whether through lack of understanding on their part or simply using the good old “British Stiff Upper Lip” excuse. The individual has to override perceived stigma ad actually ask for help in the first place. To these people I would reinforce the fact that what your mind is doing to you is actually completely natural and NORMAL. It’s all part of the primitive way in which our mind’s deal with overwhelming traumatic events that is hard wired into every single one of us! A fact born out by the psychologist Dr. Goldstein in his report PTSD Symptoms Signify Healthy Mental Functioning published (in part) on the American “Military Suicide Research Consortium” website on 24th April 2012.
There has also been a distinct lack of understanding on the part of main stream medicine over the years. It is true to say that PTSD wasn’t even formally recognized until 1980 but a willingness to understand it seems to have been severely lacking. Only now do front line medical professionals such as your local GP seem to start understanding the issue and let’s face it, many of the “old school” still don’t! Where the condition exists, a swift and accurate diagnosis must be afforded in order for that individual to then gain the correct help. If the whole thing is still poorly understood, what hope has the individual sufferer got even when they do ask for help?
Then we have the issues of finance. We have an awful habit in this country of relying on charity to get the things done that should be done, even when it is the moral responsibility of the Government to act upon these issues. The treatment of PTSD is no different! Combat Stress is, of course, the largest of these in the PTSD arena with many more smaller charities like Garrison Girls doing their bit as well. Yet these charities are overwhelmed! They are doing the best they can with the resources available and for some like Combat Stress, the constraints placed upon them by other agencies. But, is it morally right that our Government sends our troops into fields of operation and then fails them in their need when they return choosing instead to let the charities deal with it?
We need to wake up and properly fund the aftercare of those who have (rightly or wrongly) done their duty in the defense of this country. THe text books would tell you that PTSD can take up to 15 years to present itself. For one reason or another, I would argue this figure is a lot higher. So it stands to reason that this is one issue that is simply not going to go away. No matter how hard Governments try to ignore it!