Living with the traumas of war

Discussion in 'CycleChat Cafe' started by yenrod, 12 Mar 2008.

  1. yenrod

    yenrod Guest

    By Matt Precey
    BBC News

    An increasing number of British servicemen are seeking help
    If Corporal John Meighan has not been taking his sleeping pills, the dead Iraqi soldiers come to visit.
    They sit around his bed and stare at him.

    "One of them used to come up to my face but he had lips and no eyes, just sockets and they were badly burnt", he recalls.

    Without the sleeping tablets, the British serviceman would be up several times a night with these nightmares - often waking up screaming.

    Cpl Meighan had 10 tours of duty during his 14 years in the army.

    He witnessed the consequences of allied bombing on the so-called Highway of Death, the road out of Kuwait City where retreating Iraqi columns were decimated during the first Gulf War.

    It was when he returned home from this campaign that the nightmares began.

    He is one of the 260 regular clients of retired Sqn Ldr Steve Pettitt, the east of England's Welfare Officer for Combat Stress, the ex-services mental welfare charity.

    Sqn Ldr Pettitt spends his days driving around the region visiting men and women who are suffering psychological problems arising from their time in the armed forces.

    Usually it is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which develops after someone has been exposed to some sort of traumatic event.

    Sqn Ldr Pettitt said: "I have clients who at the sound of a plastic water bottle going pop in the street might hit the ground because they think it's a mortar."

    They send us out to war but they don't pick up the pieces when they come back

    Cpl John Meighan
    Those affected can see relationships breaking down along with problems with alcohol, violent outbursts, difficulties in holding down a job, even homelessness.

    Sqn Ldr Pettitt currently works with Northern Ireland veterans and people who have served in Bosnia and the first Gulf War.

    But he believes the intensity of fighting in Afghanistan, and the operations in Iraq over the past five years, will see a big increase in his caseload.

    He said PTSD can take hold more than a decade after the sufferer has left the forces.

    Combat Stress nationally is facing a 27% increase in referrals in the past two years with 175 Iraq and 29 Afghanistan veterans currently being helped.

    The charity has had to deal with nearly 1,000 new cases in the past year alone and more than 8,000 veterans are now registered with them.

    Among the Iraq and Afghan vets being helped by Combat Stress, the eldest is 60, the youngest 21. Their average age is 32.

    Regular mental health services can often not meet the needs of veterans
    Half of Combat Stress' £6.5m annual expenditure is met by the Ministry of Defence and last October the Veteran's Minister Derek Twigg announced a 45% increase in the government's contribution.

    Additionally, six special treatment centres are being set up around the UK as part of a two-year pilot scheme, with each one offering specialist therapy.

    If these centres are a success, then the scheme will be expanded.

    This is a recognition that regular NHS mental health services are often not able to meet the specific needs of veterans.

    Sqn Ldr Pettitt said: "We've found that a client will go to the NHS and find they've nothing in common with what's being discussed in the therapy group, that the therapist doesn't understand at all what the person has seen."

    Some of the experiences recounted by veterans during NHS group therapy sessions have been so horrifying that it left everyone in the room traumatised.

    Cpl Meighan said he felt abandoned when he developed PTSD.

    He said: "They send us out to war but they don't pick up the pieces when they come back."

    He has a son who is a soldier currently serving with the Royal Anglians.

    Kenny Meighan said some of his colleagues suffered mental distress following a recent tour which saw hard fighting in Helmand Province.

    He said: "You live in a room with eight men and you see them sleeping and you see them having nightmares, shouting out.

    "It just worries me because I've seen it first hand with my father - I don't want to come out like that and I don't want my friends to come out like that."
  2. trustysteed

    trustysteed Guest

  3. Combat Stress do a great job.
  4. Zoiders

    Zoiders New Member

    Ice Station Zebra
    The forces do not have a good track record with mental health issues

    They do not like broken soldiers, it makes them look bad.
  5. OP

    yenrod Guest

    I recall once I worked in Inbound Call Centre and got talking to some bloke. Turned out hed been to the Falklands lost a few mates and that with respects.

    Had nothing good to say about Thatcher etc...

    War should be banned!
  6. Keith Oates

    Keith Oates Janner

    Penarth, Wales
    <War should be banned!>

    If only it could Yenners, but there are too many nutters around to allow that to happen!!!!!!
  7. buggi

    buggi Bird Saviour

    i watched a programme where they interviewed a young soldier and an old boy from WWII. the old boy reckoned the youngsters were having so much trouble because they didn't have people to rely on when they came back. the country is detached from this war because it's so far away so no one wants to talk about it, whereas it was different when the old boy returned, because WWII affected everyone in the country.
  8. fossyant

    fossyant Ride It Like You Stole It!

    South Manchester
    My ex bro-in-law (now divorced from my sister in law) was a Para from live service in Ireland - most of his mates were killed - he wasn't the best of dad's but we are pretty sure that was most of the problem....

    They recruit young lads who don't know any better - shooting folk sounds fun , looks fun on screen on the computer, but when bits of your team fly past you, or the 'opposition', then it's something else....

    Massively covered up in earlier wars - that was society.... my granddad never talked about being a POW in Japan - he was a medic, not a fighter....can see why....

    Just to get a crude opinion of fighting - go play paint ball - you'll soon appreciate that you can't dodge a slow ball of paint, even if you see it coming... I said to the lads..."Well never be any good fighting for real..."
  9. buggi

    buggi Bird Saviour

    it's like when i see adverts for the army/navy/RAF/TA. makes it look like a weekend adventure camp. "Get to see the world"... they forget to mention you have to fight for your country.
  10. OP

    yenrod Guest

    When I was 16 - it was early in the was crap....

    I went for tests to see how good i was and what I could be good enough for.

    I actually wanted the Royal Engineers. I qualified for the Infantry.

    I thought long and hard abut it, so set upon the 'want' of it.

    My Mum was very encouraging...either way.

    Im thankfull for my life now I didnt go thru' with that decision cause I feel I wouldnt be around now...

    Ive had some real crap times in life..but id rather what i have than none at all!
  11. Dave5N

    Dave5N Über Member

    What's goin' on, Yenners?
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