Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Spoils Of War

The spoils of war are depicted as material gains seized from the enemy during or after a conflict.  There is another definition of spoils of course - that of irreparable damages.

It's often forgotten the toll war makes on military personnel.  As well as death or physical injury from enemy attacks, the mental torment suffered also can change lives forever.

Yesterday, in the front line of the unwinnable Afghanistan war, a soldier who belonged to 104 Force Support Battalion and was attached to 4 Close Support Battalion, the REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers), died at Camp Bastion.  It has been reported his death was suicide although the MoD has not confirmed the cause.

Mental anguish is often impossible to notice, particularly in members of the military, who are well trained not to show emotion.  Those who suffer deeply don't necessarily display unusual behaviour. No matter how observant support services are, in both military and civilian situations, sufferers of severe mental distress can slip through the net.  Sadly this is the most likely scenario with this soldier who is as much as casualty of this war as anyone who has died in physical combat.

Later yesterday, the MoD announced the death of another soldier who belonged to 28 Engineer Regiment and attached to 21 Engineer Regiment at Forward Operating Base Shawqat, in Helmand Province.  He was 'involved in a shooting incident' and the circumstances are not being treated as a hostile action.

Most people of my age will have experienced grief.  It's a natural part of life.  We all cope differently but we have the freedom to change our environment as often as we wish. We can visit friends, go golfing or shopping or take a long walk - our choices are only limited by our ability to be mobile. It must be exceptionally difficult for soldiers to mourn the loss of a colleague in a war situation.  There's no escape from their environment.

Since the Afghanistan war began 432 of our troops have died.


Observer said...

We know the psychological trauma of war can have a profound impact on some of the soldiers who fight them. There is an abundance of evidence that many military personnel leaving the forces have a very hard time resettling into civilian life, & ex military are disproportionately affected by mental health problems & homelessness & far too many of them end up incarcerated where they form again a disproportionatly large number of the prison population.

So it is hardly surprising if some of them break down when they are still in the war arena.

We are never going to be able to take away the risks associated with being in the army. But the very least that a government can do is deploy them in a just way. They should simply not be there. Everybody knows that the war in Afghanistan is a busted flush, it should never have been started, history was against it, & they are only there to save politicians blushes.

You can't always blame politicians for military deaths, but in this case I think we can.

Observer said...

Sorry last sentence should have said We can't always blame politicians etc.

subrosa said...

Well said Observer.

Mental health is still very underfunded in this country. We have hundreds of people suffering from depression yet so seldom is good treatment available to them. Pills are the easy option.

However, there are people who don't realise they are very ill and neither do their friends or family. This may have happened in this case, who knows.

The futility of the situation over there is blatantly evident.

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