PTSD is taking the lives of more military personnel than is actual combat
War produces casualties and those casualties need to become the responsibility of those who benefit from their service. These modern wars are so different from past wars though those who volunteer to serve today in the Middle East are really not so different from the veterans that I have encountered from past conflicts.
Their days of service have been gifts to all of us. They volunteered to not only separate themselves from career and family but sacrificed precious and an irreplaceable time of their life. And when many returned in a flag draped coffin as has occurred so many times during these recent conflicts, their coming home receives media coverage. Families and friends mourn the loss, and along highways and byways crowds line the road edge and then they too are forgotten as has been the case with our troops in previous conflicts. They become little more than statistical evidence that conflict took place. And, once a year we buy a poppy and maybe (once a year) on Remembrance Day we attend a ceremony at a Cenotaph in our home towns, we pause for a couple minutes before going about our business for another year.
What is missed is recognition that each moment of our lives lived in a free society; there is a huge debt that is owed. I often muse when I watch those homecomings with fire trucks parked on over passes along a road that has become known as the Highway of Heroes.
The Middle East conflicts have marked the first time that Canadian troops have engaged in a “war” with an enemy without uniform that would distinguish combatants from civilian though the enemies in these conflicts are equally as vicious as any SS or Gestapo platoon. Add to this is the fact that the skirmishes typically have taken place in urban areas with non-combatants nearby. This recent conflict also saw a large number of our troops killed or maimed by improvised road bombs built from long forgotten ordinance. No war is without its own new ways of killing people.
Little wonder that these modern day conflicts have produced a new type of casualty which has become known as the invisible injured. Post traumatic stress disorder is an illness with which I have deeply rooted personal knowledge. Its result is not self curable and does not simply pass with time. With proper medical treatment, it can be cured. Be assured, the battle with such an illness is not quick or easy.
Statistics from 2012 reveal that among USA troops (who have served in the same theatres of action) 212 servicemen committed suicide in one single year. I remind people that the key word in the illness is “stress”. The stress of having to separate enemy from similar looking innocent non-combatants while wondering if each boot step will result in a catastrophic life ending explosion is far from the norm. I dare say that no air traffic controller, no peace officer or fireman faces such high levels of stress for sustained periods of deployment.
How these military personnel are dealt with by a society that regularly buys a poppy and attends a Remembrance Day event is troubling – at least to me. I ask what we are doing to help these soldiers and their families. The answer is certainly NOT deciding to close Veteran’s Aid Centres across Canada. To close those centres only places yet another obstacle into the pathway of healing.
In the USA, in 2012 more military personnel died from suicide than from combat. One serviceman dies every 25 minutes from the effects of an illness that has no external symptoms. In the USA, they are
Investing time and money into dealing with the aftermath of places like Afghanistan. In addition, 24-7 help (1-800-273-8255.) has been established to assist families dealing with this silent killer. And, in Canada, we decide to close regional Veterans’ Centres while squandering tens of millions of dollars annually celebrating Multiculturalism.
When I speak of Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD), I speak from experience. Shutting these centres and tossing away money on frivolous things such as Multicultural events is not only unfair; it is being ungrateful.
Think about it. Someone you know has ex military in their family or among their close friends. Are multicultural events worth the life of even one person who has defended your beliefs?
- Canadian soldiers still deployed in Afghanistan this Remembrance Day (globalnews.ca)
- Veterans Day: Casualties of war at home (wcpo.com)
- Tensions over veterans charter remain as Canada marks Remembrance Day (ctvnews.ca)
- A Remembrance Day with significance as Canadian troops return home from Afghanistan (news.nationalpost.com)
- Do not overlook troops still in Afghanistan, warn military figures (telegraph.co.uk)