Posts Tagged ‘prison’

I have a friend called Josh.

Josh joined the army aged 17. Every so often I worry about him. Not just because he’ll go out and fight for our country and put his life in danger. But also because of what might happen when he comes back to the UK. Back to ‘normality’.

On Sunday many of  us will have attended armistice services all over the UK to remember those who have been killed in action. But what about those who lived? All too often war veterans can slip through the net and be forgotten by society.

At the moment there are estimated to be 250,000 war veterans living in Wales.  Many ex-service men and women will struggle to adjust back into civilian life when they are discharged from the armed forces. A joint study done in 2002 by Shelter and the MOD indicated that 25% of the 20,000 people leaving the armed forces each year experience homelessness at some point in their lives. A study done by NAPO in 2008 showed that 8.5% of the prison population in England and Wales had armed services record. Another NAPO study in 2009 showed that 12,000 former armed services personnel were under supervision of the Probation Service in England and Wales; either on community services or on parole. Since the Falklands war – in which 255 soldiers died –  a further 264 veterans had also committed suicide by 2009.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) plays a big part in these statistics. The MOD estimates that 4% of soldiers will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. However, American sources find this figure to be much higher, more like 20 or 30%. As Fraser Nelson shrewdly pointed out “Either Americans are five times as vulnerable, or Britain has some way to go in assessing the scale of the problem.”

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

It means we’re not taking enough care of our soldiers.

Ken Hames, former SAS major and founder of the Forces Self Build Scheme, said in a Big Issue Cymru article last week: “…the separation between the forces and society – that gulf – is as great as it’s ever been. They are deployed constantly, so the military’s chance to interact with society the way it once did is small. Soldiers aren’t coming back to cohesive communities, aren’t coming back to places where employment is reliable.”

Ex-soldier Clive Hawkins spoke about his experiences after leaving the army of coping with PTSD.

Welsh Charity Healing the Wounds are raising money to build a residential treatment facility for PTSD sufferers in Wales; the only UK nation which doesn’t have such a facility. To find out more about PTSD visit: http://www.combatstress.org.uk/