Thursday, 16 July 2009
We Remember the Fallen.............We Must Remember The Rest
As the bodies of eight soldiers, including three teenagers, killed in a bloody 24 hours in Helmand were repatriated, mental health experts joined warned that not enough was being done to care for returning members of the armed forces.
Britain faces a "ticking timebomb" of mental illness and suicide among young Army veterans who return from Afghanistan.
A lack of mental health care for veterans, combined with the stress of fighting the Taliban, will mean many survivors of the conflict pay a heavy price in psychological problems and self harm.
Research suggests that veterans aged 18 to 23 are up to three times more likely to commit suicide than their civilian counterparts. Setting out plans today to boost mental health care for returning troops. Appaerntly more veterans of the Falklands campaign and the first Gulf War killed themselves after quitting the forces than died in action.
An estimated 264 Falklands veterans have committed suicide since the conflict ended, compared with 255 soldiers killed in action, according to an ex-servicemen's organisation.
Twenty-four British soldiers died during the 1991 Gulf War, but the Ministry of Defence disclosed last year that 169 veterans of the conflict had died from "intentional self-harm" or in circumstances that led to open verdicts at inquests.
David Hill, director of operations for the charity Combat Stress, said it took an average of 14 years for veterans to ask for help with post-traumatic stress disorder. Many suffered in silence – often harbouring suicidal thoughts – because they were reluctant to admit to their vulnerability.
Mr Hill said: "Servicemen and women are exposed to stresses that most people won't be exposed to in their lives. In Afghanistan, they are exposed to them quite early in their careers. There is a general lack of understanding about how intense these stresses can be."
A study by Manchester University this year found that ex-servicemen under 24 were between two and three times more likely to kill themselves than men of the same age from outside the forces.
Greater help and emphasis needs to be put on returning service men and wowen. We can not just allow them to experience what they have been then just let them go with no support. Yes I realise wars throughout time will have effected service folks. The Flanders field of WW1 will also have had the same effect, but we now have the medical skills to recognise, to support, to help. And we must.
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