The Hidden Consequences of War

Meeting the physical and mental demands of soldiering is the ultimate test when in very dangerous circumstances. It requires the ability to endure day after day and week after week in the most hostile environment that both Mother Nature and Man can create

The keys in meeting such challenges include one of the most respected military commandments which is “Look after your mates.” It is a belief applied with reverence, particularly on operations where you rely on your comrades with life itself.

Sooner or later after military service, veterans trade uniforms and rifles for mufti, brief cases, desks, tools or tractors and seemingly are safe from harm; yet a storm is gathering. Sadly, for many of them, another war is about to begin and their loved ones will be in the front line as well.

The enemy will be an insidious seemingly un-scalable mountain called PTSD. They can no longer rely on their mates now scattered far and wide who shared, cared and understood each other in dire circumstances. More often than not, such veterans are surrounded by those who do not understand their plight.

It is interesting to note that soldiers hospitalised with sickness or wounds often fret and are quite restless until they are back with their unit again. In WW1 it was officially recorded that AIF soldiers and non- commissioned officers rebelled on parade when told their close and tested unit was being disbanded to provide reinforcements for other units.  (Which also implied their particular family of brothers would be scattered to the winds)

PTSD can be caused by guilt, failure, betrayal or flitting images of past fear, violent death, suffering and misery, to name but a few. Equally the very sensitive triggers include the sounds familiar with the battlefield; broken political promises; lack of recognition; harassment; rejection, loneliness and failed relationships

Thus my scribble below is as a result of countless conversations over the years with comrades fighting their personal wars. Hopefully it will remind all of us of how many of them may well experience the past while seeking precious sleep to gather confidence and strength before once more trying to scale that mountain tomorrow.

All of us should make it our war as well and offer a helping hand even though many who seek it are too proud and reluctant to grasp it. Just as importantly, our leaders must find ways of strengthening mind, body and resilience of soldiers prior to operations to help reduce the number of casualties to such an affliction. It will require more than meaningless talkfests orchestrated by politicians.

 

                           SLEEP

If I could only sleep the sleep of sleeps

To capture sweet deeds I can keep

In the cloak of night greet blissful rest so rare

To dream of peace and even love should I dare

I cannot escape this shrinking smothering room

Painted with spite, hate and terrible doom

I am shackled to the past and never to be free

Deep sleep in pure white sheets is not to be

Oh to be deaf to shrieks and howls spat from spiteful guns

Blind to flitting silent shadows mid the last rays of dying suns

Be gone the shuffling file of haunted faces never to smile again

If only a welcome storm to wash away the guilt and pain

In this lonely bed, to dream of peace, goodwill and love

To walk mid young green forests reaching high above

To hear the joyful welcome calls of feathered birds so bright

To shut out the darkness of yesterday and seek tomorrow’s light

George Mansford ©September 2016

 

Comments

  1. Ron Walker says

    PTSD DIDN’T EXIST in 1957 , when I took my “D”. No one gave a “sh#” then and so it goes……