PTSD to Increase Under “Army 2020”?
Okay, it’s been a while since I commented or published anything regarding my chosen specialty of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I feel sure I am not the only Veteran looking on in horrified silence at the proposed cuts to our Army under “Army 2020”. I’ve held my tongue long enough and must ask the question if our politicians have finally taken complete leave of their senses in tightening the purse strings around the MOD’s neck (yet again)!
Granted, much like any other corporate of Government monolith, the MOD hemorrhages money like a leaky sieve. We must all identify economic ways to cut costs in these times of austerity, however, cutting personnel is NOT the way to do it under the current operational tempo.
Some time ago a set of “Harmony Guidelines” where developed and introduced by each service. These guidelines were designed to ensure that Armed Forces personnel had a decent amount of time between operational tours (and other separated service).
Psychiatrists believe that prolonged period in combat zones without proper rest and recuperation leads to increased risks of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcoholism and family breakdown.
Research conducted by Kings College in London in 2008 found that there was a 20% to 50% likelihood that troops will suffer an increased risk of developing PTSD if their units breached the guidelines. So these guideline have not been arbitrarily plucked out of thin air. They have been shown to work when adhered to through robust empirical research.
Whilst the Navy managed to broadly meet the guidelines, the Army fall short year on year. Yet the Government is insisting that we shed another 20,000 Army personnel over the next 8 years! They suggest that shortfall within operational deployments can be made up by the increased use of the Territorial Army (TA) and Reservists, further ignoring research that suggests these groups of personnel are more likely still to succumb to PTSD symptoms.
For God’s sake! Do the maths people! If we are unable to meet harmony guidelines for the good and benefit of our Armed Forces now, how the hell are we going to do it with a further cut of 20,000 personnel? Unless, of course, we stop calling it an “Army” and re-title it a “Defense Force”. Bring all the lads home and refuse to take part in any overseas operations, regardless of whether British interests need looking after or not.
If we carry on with the current operational tempo and still make these cuts, then research suggests we WILL see an increase in cases of PTSD. Something which the Government already rely to heavily upon charity to address.
Hark! Tick-tock-tick-tock… Is that he sound of the PTSD time bomb growing ever louder?