Tuesday, 9 December 2008
Pipe Major Jimmy Riddle wrote this tune on the night of the assault and he later played standing high on the crags overlooking Stanley.
A copy can be downloaded here
Sunday, 16 November 2008
|From 2008 Remembrance Stockholm|
It was a different weekend.
I haven't been religious since I was a teenager when I was encouraged to attend both regular Sunday school and the occasional church service.
This time last year I was in Stanley Cathedral and for the first time went to a parade. I didn't really relate to the pastor, or his rather confused and rambling sermon, but I did appreciate standing there remembering the fallen.
This year I find myself in Stockholm and decided to do something a little different.
So on the Friday we attended the annual general meeting of the Ex Servicemen's Association which consisted of drinks and nibbles with the British Ambassador and his wife at their official residence followed by a sitdown meal over at the embassy.
It was my first time to meet a number of ex Servicemen of all ages and both sexes ranging from an ex Norwegian resistance fighter who escaped to England and flew Spitfires to a recently retired RMP fresh back from Iraq.
It was a good crowd and both Susie and I enjoyed ourselves. To our immense surprise we won 3rd prize in the raffle and took home a case of Spitfire beer.
Sunday saw us again back at the embassy residence saying hello to the ambassador, though not before attending the parade.
The Anglican church was beautiful and looked every part an English village church. Flags hung from the rafters, flowers adorned the pews, and everyone turned out in their Sunday best. Susie and I sat at the back next to the central aisle as I had a couple of wreaths that I wanted to lay. It had all been arranged and at the appropriate time I stepped forward and along with the British and American military attaches presented them to the pastor.
The one thing I got wrong was my wording on the cards. I had always thought that Remembrance Sunday is about remembering all the deceased from all wars. It wasn't until I was at the church and actually listened to the words for the first time I realised that in fact it's only for WWI and WWII. My wreaths were all wrong, or so I thought for about 30 seconds.
Today was for the 8 guys we left around Tumbledown and for the other 258 members of the Task Force.
So if I have offended anybody I sincerely apologise but from now on I will stand proud and remember not just those who fell in the two world wars but especially those who are a little closer to me.
|From 2008 Remembrance Stockholm|
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Dear Mum, Dad and Dave
The helicopter which will take the mail away will be here any minute now so I thought I should write you a few lines.
I bring good news even though you may know from the papers etc. We sail aboard the "Norland" on July 31st to arrive at Ascension Islands on about the 6-7th August. We will then loll around in the sun for a couple of days before being flown back to arrive on the 8,9 or 10th August.
As you can imagine everyone is over the moon with the news. Ah I hear the chopper now. Will write later
Lots of love (I mean it)
Sunday, 28 September 2008
Dear Mum, Dad and Dave
Today I received 2 of your letters. Dad's was dated 19th June and Mum's was dated 21st June. However never mind. I was so glad to have heard from you both and that everyone is alright.
I'm currently still at Ajax Bay south of San Carlos sitting in an old refridgeration plant suffering from soldiers syndrome, BOREDOM!! Since the Argentinian prisoners left nearly 2 weeks ago I have being doing nothing except dismantling this, moving that, filling this and carrying that.
We have now got a projector so we can see the odd film. The navy have been very hospitable over the last few days. We have all had a turn at going aboard HMS Minerva which was in the vicinity for a few days until she left yesterday. We have all had a shower, a good meal and then all getting merrily drunk.
We still have no certain date when we're due back. However rumour control and the grapevine puts the date somewhere between 18th-22nd July. We also do not know how we are going back whether by sea, air or a combination of both. One good thing though is that the advance party have left so we must go soon.
By the sounds of it this will be a one battalion posting and the Scots Guards are not part of it. When I was on the Minerva I saw a video of the news when the Welsh Guards were bombed at Fitzroy. Having seen the video it reminded me of many things. Thank god I'm still alive to tell my story unlike those poor sods.
The house sounds terrific, I can't wait to see the end results. I hope to have at least 3 weeks leave if not more so perhaps we can spend a little time together.
I picked up some more bric a brac today including a key belonging to the late HMS Argonaut which was sunk off San Carlos as well as a map of Stanley I hope to have the map framed as a memory. I've also got a Falklands One Pound note, an Argentinian helmet, an Argentinian marine corps belt and an Argentinian hat.
Before I forget and I hope I'm not too late in saying so HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD. I hope you received my letter concerning the food parcel. If you did forget it because I dont think I'll be here much longer. If it's too late never mind. I would like to ranble on a bit more but I wouldn't. Giving you all my information will give me nothing to say later one.
Lots of love your very bored son
Dear Mum, Dad and Dave
Thought I would drop you a line as I'm not doing anything in particular. After having a relaxing if not sometimes boring 4 or 5 days on board the Mv St Edmund I, and about 70 others, have been moved to Ajax Bay on East Falklands. Ajax Bay is where the 8 Scots Guards who were killed are buried. Visiting the cemetery is quite moving.
We are currently guarding about 500 Argies in an old refrigeration plant. It's just like Colditz. It's quite strange to watch fellow humans beings working while you stand there with a loaded rifle. They are not a bad bunch. We have 4 distinct groups, the higher ranking officers i.e Generals, Brigadiers etc are kept under lock and key nearly all the time; for for their own safety. The second group are the lower ranking officers, these are company and platoon commanders. They aren't very friendly because they lost he! he! and they celebrate mass at 1.00am every morning. All you hear is Santa Amria blah blah Santa Maria blah blah etc for about 1/2 hour, wierd!! The third group are the SNCO's who are all regular troops and make up the company sergeant majors etc. These are fairly reserved but sometimes indulge in small amounts of conversation. The 4th group are the conscripts. These are the most popular among us. They are, almost to the man, cheerful, helpful and obedient. If you tell them to do something they do it immediately. They make up about 75% of our
prisoners and they all seem to be quite happy with being a prisoner.
Well so much about me. I received all your letters in one batch about 1 week ago. Some went way back into May. I am very glad to hear all the news.
Mum you mentioned a parcel. Weill if you could send me a copy of Tolkiens "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" I would be most grateful. If you could also send me a photo of you all that would be very nice. Apart from that I leave any other things up to you and Dad.
As far as coming home is concerned the latest rumour, which is quite high powered, seems to suggest mid-July to late August. So it seems I'll spend my 19th birthday out here.
Well all my love to you all
Sunday, 14 September 2008
Dear Mum, Dad and Dave
I thought I'd better drop you a line to tell you how I am. By this time you should have received my radiogram telling you that I'm all right. Well I unlike many of the lads who have trenchfoot or frostbite in their feet.
As you are well aware the Argies have packed it in, and about time too. I don't know if you know but the Scots Guards lost 8 dead and countless wounded. My company had 9 wounded altogether which is not a lot concidering it was our company that booted the last of the Argentine Marines off the posistion.
Well this is something I never want to do again in a hurry, and there are certainly some experiences that I especially do not want to relive. The Falklands themselves are wet, cold and very uninviting. Why the Argies were willing to lose thousands of men for it is beyond me!!
We landed at San Carlos Bay on the 2nd June after transferring from the QE2 to the Canberra at South Georgia. We spent 3 days there without even seeing an Argie plane. We then moved to Bluff Cove which is on the East coast about 19kms from Stanley. We dug in and did nothing but shoot down 2 Skyhawks who were responsible for the bombing of the Welsh Guards at Fitzroy.
After a week at Bluff Cove we attacked and took Tumbledown. That night was the most frightning time of my life and at least 3 times I can now honestly say that I have been shelled, mortared and shot at by both British forces and Argentinian.
After the battle we stacked the dead in piles and after that we were flown back to Fitzroy were we spent 4 days in a sheep pen. I am now on the Sir Edmund which is a British Rail North Sea Ferry.
Well how was your holiday in Spain Mum, and how was your boating holiday Dad. I have been on a wonderful holiday in the Falklands. Hopefully I will be back for my birthday but that is only speculation.
Hope to see you very soon. Can't wait to see the house now that you have been working on it. All my love to all of you
Saturday, 13 September 2008
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
Dear Mum, Dad and Dave
Choppers came in today and yesterday to ferry essential supplies such as beer, soft drinks, chocolate and mail so I received both your letters, it was great hearing from you. I wrote to both of you yesterday so I haven't got a lot to say.
We aren't staying on the Ascension Islands, as a matter of fact all we are doiing is going around it in circles taking on supplies. Tonight we go South but you probably know about this from the news anyway. When we join the Task Force we will probably vacate the QE2 and board naval vessels to minimise the chances of all of 5 brigade being blown out of the water. As a result things will probably be much safer.
Rumours are rife but it is probable the QE2 will become a hospital ship so I wouldn't particularly wish to come back on board as a passenger. 5 brigade has 2 options. We are primamrily a reserve force to back up the paras and marines but there again we may be required to act indepently. Again rumour has it that there is another brigade under going traininbg and we hope that they will form a garrison.
As it stands we stand little chance of kicking the Argies off the islands through purely military operations in the forseeable future. We need to outnumber the enemy 3 to 1 to gain a certain victory. We are led to believe that they outnumber us by 2 to 1. However that isn't all that bad because most of the troops are new recruits from February. They use the same infantry weapons that we do so fully appreciate their ability in firepower. Saying that there weapons may be unusable due to the weather and the inexperienced training of the troops.
We expect to encounter pretty bad weather as we go further south. The weather itself is about the same as a Scottish winter, however saying that the wind is constantly blowing and can be a serious threat. The islands are gradually sinking into sea so the large majority of the islands are marshy and the atmosphere is very damp. Cover from the elements will be few and far between as there are only 2 clumps of trees in the netire islands.
I can't remember if I told you my job but in case I haven't I am now with company stores. Our job in life will be to ferry supplies such as food, water and ammunition up to the ftont line. We will probably be engaged in guarding and supply dumps and other instalations. My job as a pay clerk is now down to about 2 to 3 hours a week so it be hard graft. We have no idea when we will be back to England but as far as I am concerned the sooner the better
Morale is high though the novelty of going to war has to the large majority now worn off. I have never seen a body of men more dedicated to deal a crushing defeat to the Argies.
I am getting very fit as we do a hours rigorous training every day. This normally entails everyone running around the QE2 from Brigadier downwards. I'm getting a nice tan which puts a shame on my other ones and that is only from 1 hours exposure a day to the sun.
I think of you back in England and it is only now that I realise what a wonderful existence we live. As I think ahead to the conditions we will most probably have to endure I would be quite happy to say "here, keep the bloody islands". However I don't feel that way and never will.
Lots of love
Monday, 8 September 2008
Dear Mum, Dad and Dave
This letter will probably reach you either before, after or at the same time as my other one. The other one is in an envelope which has a stamp on it.
We are now 8 days from Southampton and for obvious security reasons I can't say where we are exactly although it doesn't make much difference. However we stopped for a few hours at Freetown on the west coast of Africa before we crossed the equator.
Training has been very intense with helicopter drills, lifeboat training as well as fitness training. The fitness training can be pretty bad at times. We ran around the deck of the QE21 8 times followed by 1/2 hous of press ups etc and the temperature was 77. The weather is getting hotter all the time and is now about 85.
As far as I go the worst I have encountered so far is the stuffy conditions as well as the weather. The conditions are cramped but they are apparently going to get worse, the food started off great but gradually they are making the food more basic. They are eventually making conditions more primitive for obvious reasons as you can't transfer troops from luxury to living in the field.
We're getting many lectures on many interesting topics but again we can't mention them because they are all classified subjects. Things could very well get sticky if we invade and they resist. The biggest question in everyones mind is not where we land or when or how or if, but will the Argies resist. I know I wouldn't.
Well there is plenty more to write about but I'm really very tired and weary from the heat. I write again very soon or as soon as possible.
I love you all, I'll be thinking of you when we invade
Sunday, 7 September 2008
One of the many advantages of having all my documents in one place is that I now have access to the letters I wrote to my family during the campaign. Unknown to myself my mother kept these letters safe and returned them to me a couple of years ago.
They make for some interesting reading and give me an insight to my thoughts at the time.
This is the first one I wrote while on board the QE2
Dear Mum, Dad and Dave
Well everyone I write to you my first letter for almost 2 years aboard the QE2. After an early start (3.00am) we finally boarded the QE2 at about 7.30am, watched by a small crowd of relatives and a huge hoard of photographers and film crews. I have got a cabin which built for 2 people, however they have crammed 3 of us in here. The QE2 has changed from an obvious luxury liner into a troop ship for some 3,000 troops. Gone have the display cabinets and fixtures from the corridors and main meeting places. Cardboard and mats cover the floors, gone have the plush lounges to be replaced by rows and rows of camp beds. She has been stripped down to what a cross channel ferry looks like. However there are still many good things. The food is fantasti. Its cooked by the crew, not army chefs, and as a result we get very well fed. We are actually allowed galklons of milk to drink and we get GRAPEFRUIT!! for breakfast. Waiters clear up and keep the dining rooms clean each meal time, which can't be easy when there are 3,000 troops on board. Everywhere you go there are soldiers, machine guns, rifles, sub-machine guns, anti-tank weapons, mortars, anti-aircraft weapons and piles and piles of stores which spill out onto the decks in all directions. Along with the Welsh Guards and Gurkhas there are artillery, rapier anti-aircraft crews and personnel from every corps and support arms in the army.
The crew are fantastic, they are cheery, helpful and quite willing to engage in conversation. I pity them for they must be used to quite dosile, rich and well mannered passengers. Now they have to cope with us!!
So far we have done nothing but sit around and explore the ship. Its huge with a swimming pool, a laundarette, cinema and shops. One funny thing I heard was one of the crew commenting on that all the army exists on is beer and chocolate which makes up a vast amount of the stock. Prices are very cheap, everything is at cost price and its suprising how much we were over charged in the shops on shore.
Morale is very high and everyone is having a great time writing messages on sheets and hanging them over the sides. Boredom is the only fatal thing that we have to watch out for. As I have previously mentioned there is virtually no extra space to do weapon training and exercide but that doesn't really concern me.
Well that's all I have got to offer as news at my end. There are no problems at my end except I havent got any stamps so could you send me 2 or 3 please? I will re-imburse you of course. As far as the bank is concerned forget what I said. I'll draw money over the table which will make my bank paymenst very small.
Well lots of love to all the family. Write as sonn as possible and hopefully I'll get back in 2 weeks time
Friday, 5 September 2008
Thursday, 4 September 2008
Time to look up some of the missing titles and add to my collection.
Friday, 29 August 2008
My main plan was to have been to attend one of the numerous reunion dinners that were taking place across the country and in particular I was all setup to attend a SAMA82 dinner in Aberdeen. Everything was going according to plan such as organising flights, getting a cheap ticket and speaking with Theresa Davies and arranging to stay with her. Then work reared its ugly head and a series of meetings with an important customer meant it all had to be cancelled :(
I wouldn't say I lost heart but June turned out to be a very busy month and then July is vacation month so a big chunk of that was taken up going away on holiday. Then it was back to work and again a series of busy demands including a trip to Norway and suddenly it was August.
More vacation sees me back in the UK and this time a whirlwind series of visits to relatives and seeing friends who I havent seen for a year. Best part of this though is that I am now reunited with my complete library and have had a chance to acquire some more books over in Hay-On-Wye which is close to where I live in Hereford.
So please accept my apologies but normal service is being resumed
Monday, 26 May 2008
View Larger Map
I spent some time recently looking at Tumbledown on Google maps. It makes for some interesting study.
Google offers 3 ways of looking at the terrain. The image above is in "terrain" mode showing Tumbledown in the center. What can clearly be seen is that Tumbeldown dominates the Stanley Road directly to the South. Mount William is to the South East, Mountain Harriet to the South West and Two Sisters to the North West. Directly to the West is Goat Ridge while the long ridge directly to the North is Mount Longdon and Wireless Ridge.
When you use the Satellite view its fascinating to be able to "walk" over the battlefield.
Press the "Sat" button and zoom in a couple of times and there is Tumbledown in all her glory. Zoom in a couple of more times and you are looking directly at the area where Left Flank were held up.
Take a look at this
View Larger Map
You can't help noticing the profusion of shell holes that 26 years later have still not been eroded by nature. The pockmark the mountainside like a bad case of acne.
Monday, 19 May 2008
Gus Hales served with 9 PARA RE and fought alongside 3 PARA on Longdon.
The Battle for Mount Longdon
During the pilgrimage in 2007 Gus will always be remembered for his actions during the rememberance service held in Stanley cathedral when he walked to the front and totally off his own back read a poem he had written. His thoughts echoed those of many veterans and received thunderous applause as what he had to say really hit the mark, unlike the padre who gave the sermon, whose words went over most peoples head including mine.
Well done Gus.
Friday, 2 May 2008
An Approach for the Malvinas War Veterans´ issue :
The Peer Support
EDUARDO C. GERDING
for the International Review of the Armed Forces Medical Services
La posibilidad de crear una red de contención a nivel nacional para los Veteranos de Guerra, conformada por otros Veteranos de Guerra poseedores de sólidos conocimientos intelectuales, avalados por instituciones universitarias y supervisados por profesionales médicos y psiquiatras especializados es hoy una realidad mundial.
Los consejeros (Peer Support Counselors) deberán surgir de la sociedad misma ya sea de los Centros de Veteranos, de las Areas de Veteranos etc. Dichos equipos podrán conformarse a nivel de ex conscriptos, personal de Suboficiales y Oficiales. Esto implica tener una Misión y Objetivos, un Reglamento que establezca los deberes y derechos, un espíritu de cuerpo y una enorme vocación por ayudar al camarada.
The extreme and terrible nature of war touches something essential about being human. For those who survive, the victors and the defeated, the battle lives in their memories and nightmares ... It survives as hundreds of searing private memories, memories of loss and triumph, shame and pride, struggles each veteran must fight each day of his life."
- Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern Warfare.
The Operational Stress Injury
Operational stress injury (OSI) is a non-medical term used to describe any persistent psychological difficulty including anxiety, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ( PTSD ) resulting from operational duties performed by the men and women of the Armed Forces. The OSIs (or Combat Stress Reactions) are not mental weakness nor are they signs of cowardice. OSIs have no preferences and can strike anyone of any gender, of any personality type, rank, trade or classification. The OSIs don´t prefer one operational tour to another. (2)
The symptoms and the injuries themselves vary according to the nature of the warfare and, equally important, the reception given to the injured soldier. Single traumatic events - including events far away from combat - can generate vivid, ever more frequent nightmares. In many case the symptoms do not appear for some time after the event a veteran can return home healthy with years passing before the condition develops. US Army General George Patton whose views on this subject are thought to be extreme, stated that ‘any man who says he has battle fatigue is avoiding danger’. This traditional equating of OSI with cowardice is still sometimes encountered even in modern armies (89). However we should remember that courage is not absence of fear, but the mastery of, and ability to overcome fear. (60,61,94).
Efforts to predict which combatants might be more vulnerable have broadly failed. It has been suggested that female soldiers are "more resilient" in some unexplored way. Washingtonpost. Newsweek Interactive. Notwithstanding, female may require too assistance to avoid marginalization.(7)
The soldier´s experience in the battlefield
What is a soldier exposed to ? We should remember the traumatic experience of the conscripts aboard the cruiser ARA General Belgrano. Mount Longdon, Mount Tumbledown and Goose Green were no doubt bloody ground battles which ended with fixed bayonets and hand-to-hand fighting (28). The Welsh Guards were bombed aboard the RFA Sir Galahad and Sir Tristam at Bluff Cove/Fitzroy more than 55 were killed and many were terribly burned and injured.(2).The 1982 conflict took 746 Argentine lives, 255 British and 3 inhabitants of the island. It was certainly no picnic. The campaign cost the British 255 men killed (113 of the Royal Navy ) and 777 wounded (436 of the Army ).(38,39).Robert Fox, BBC radio´s man in the front line, wrote on the 1982 conflict that ¨more British servicemen died than the total number killed on operations in Afghanistan since 2001 and Iraq since 2003. Such attrition is unlikely to be tolerated today) (2).
A most accurate report on this type of dreadful experience was published in The New England Journal of Medicine showing that during the Iraq war 56 percent of soldiers and Marines have killed another human being, 20 percent admit being responsible for noncombatant deaths, and 94 percent had seen bodies and human remains. (11). Exposure to combat was significantly greater among those who were deployed to Iraq than among those deployed to Afghanistan. The percentage of study subjects whose responses met the screening criteria for major depression, generalized anxiety, or PTSD was significantly higher after duty in Iraq (15.6 to 17.1 percent) than after duty in Afghanistan (11.2 percent) or before deployment to Iraq (9.3 percent); the largest difference was in the rate of PTSD. Of those whose responses were positive for a mental
disorder, only 23 to 40 percent sought mental health care. Those whose responses were positive for a mental disorder were twice as likely as those whose responses were negative to report concern about possible stigmatization and other barriers to seeking mental health care.(46). The majority of soldiers probably won’t want to discuss what they did and the horrific things they encountered at all. And again, they might well like to isolate. If they elect to be with others, they will probably want to be around those who are war veterans like themselves. They want to be with people can understand what they went through, plus the resulting emotionally painful aftermath.(29)
In the case of the 1982 conflict intellectuals still argue about the war and its consequences (43,77,81).In the meantime, Great Britain maintains a heavy military presence at the Mount Pleasant complex on East Falkland Island. The cost is some $150 million a year, or about one quarter of 1 percent of Britain's defense budget, and includes about 1,200 soldiers, sailors and airmen, plus weaponry ranging from Tornado jet fighters to howitzers and naval patrol craft. (79)
The soldier´s self imageIs there a stigma so strong that a soldier is unwilling to admit, even to himself, that he's injured? Does the world regard him as a legitimate casualty, or as merely a weak individual?(58,67). And is this soldier returning to a place that accepts him gratefully as a veteran, or will he be scorned as promoting an unjustified war? Does the war veteran describes his own experience (Gallo) or has incorporated what he has read in books about the war? (36). Injuries sustained sometimes get buried deeply within, where they can fester and poison other parts of the veteran's life to the point of total breakdown. (76) .Tony McNally was a gunner in the British Royal Artillery during the 1982 Conflict. He has battled mental health problems for years, triggered by guilt over the moment his missile system malfunctioned being unable to prevent the death of his comrades on bombed and blazing ships.
At his home in Dalton, Cumbria , Mr McNally recalled the moment when four Argentine jets, two A4 Skyhawks and two supersonic Mirages, came roaring in to attack the Royal Fleet Auxiliaries Sir Galahad and SirTristram as they landed Scots Guards and Welsh Guards at Bluff Cove on the western side of the Falklands, the launchpad for an attack on Argentine forces occupying Port Stanley, 80 miles away. "The British Army's way of telling you to deal with war immediately after is to get drunk and that will sort you out," said Mr McNally. "On the ship home, it was chaos. People started fighting; one guy stabbed another guy in the belly with a bayonet. For a military environment, it was pretty ill-disciplined." When Mr McNally returned to Britain, he felt flat and depressed. "When I got off, my parents weren't there to greet me. I felt so alone. I made my own way home. When I got there my mam hugged me and my dad shook my hand, but that was it, it seemed like a massive anti-climax, like I'd just been out for a packet of fags." He was 19 years old. (87)
The moral edge
Psychologist and former US Army Ranger, Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman and others have written extensively and insightfully regarding the profound debilitating effects of killing in war combat behavior. He emphasized the importance of appreciating the relevancy of moral values and norms to defining themselves as personas, structuring their world, and rendering their relationship to it, and to other human beings, comprehensible. Those values and norms provide the parameters of our being called ¨moral identity¨ by Grossman. I term our Combat behavior often violates the moral identity and negatively impacts on the self-esteem, self-image, ands integrity causing debilitating remorse, guilt, shame, disorientation and alienation from the remainder of the moral community-moral injury. (11). Dr Nigel Hunt´s research has examined the universal and the cultural effects of war trauma.
The universal elements of the condition include the traumatic event, and the memory of that event, which triggers an emotional response. Also universal are the two basic elements of coping with the condition — either addressing it or choosing to ignore it. The cultural elements of war trauma cover the acknowledgement, treatment and support networks for the condition, as well as the way it manifests itself. This can vary broadly depending on the nationality, social background and religion of those suffering from the symptoms. In Finland veterans are the focus of a great deal of respect from their government and population. They are also offered annual 'respite care' sessions at specially-built camps across the country. Here they can spend two weeks a year with other veterans, in a relaxing environment, with access to expert advice and help. As a result, Finland sees a very limited incidence of war trauma among its veterans. But for veterans coming home to the UK find no such support network in place. Often, the only place for them to turn is oversubscribed charities such as Combat Stress and the Royal British Legion.
“In Iran, there's a very strong religious support network in place,” said Dr Hunt. “The existence of war trauma is recognized, particularly in relation to the Iran-Iraq War, and people are supported by their religious belief and their relationship to their imam and mosque. Their reasons for going to war were just, because they were fighting for God, and their memories and injuries are justified by their devotion.”. ¨Here in the UK we don't have such a strong belief system. Those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are more likely to ask what they are fighting for. When they see horrific incidents, they might struggle to justify it in the context of the wider conflict. Unlike Iranian soldiers, they know they don't have the full support of the people back home. And when they do return home, a system isn't in place to deal with the resulting psychological problems. All of these factors will mean that war trauma amongst UK veterans will increase over the coming months and years unless significant extra funding and effort is dedicated to supporting them.”
That combat stress reactions could be a consequence of a mental conflict arising from a sense of duty being matched by an unconscious wish to survive, was first adapted to battle psychiatry by the psychoanalyst David Eder (1916) whilst working with soldiers evacuated from Gallipoli (94). It is estimated that twenty-five to thirty-nine percent of Argentine war veterans suffered PTSD and eighty-eight percent of them have never attended a health centre (10,13). More than half of all male Vietnam War veterans and almost half of all female Vietnam War veterans have experienced PTSD. In the USA. the rigorous evaluation of war-related psychiatric disorders begun with the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study. This national epidemiologic survey of male and female veterans of Vietnam was conducted in the mid-1980s. The veterans were therefore assessed 10 to 20 years after their service in Vietnam. The prevalence of current PTSD was 15 percent among men and 8 percent among women. The lifetime prevalence of PTSD was higher 30 percent among male veterans and 25 percent among female veterans. (14,34).Prior research has revealed heightened aggressive behavior among veterans with PTSD.(86).New research into PTSD is leading to a better understanding of its underlying neurobiology, risk factors and long-term implications.
The findings were published in a recent issue of Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences and were revealed at a conference jointly sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.(64,97,98).According to Colonel Charles Engel MD, MPH, director of the deployment health clinical center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, between 15 and 29 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will suffer from PTSD (11). Table 1 shows the results observed among the Argentine War Veterans. There were no Royal Army Medical Corps psychiatrists in the Malvinas war (73).US Army researchers evaluated health assessment forms completed by 88,000 soldiers and an attending clinician immediately on their return from Iraq and then again a median of 6 months later. Immediately upon return, reservists and active duty soldiers showed similar rates of overall mental health concerns — about 17% in each group. During follow-up reevaluations, however, reservists reported "substantially higher rates of interpersonal conflict, PTSD, depression, and overall mental health risk" than active duty soldiers.(62).Dr Nigel Hunt, Associate Professor in the Institute of Work, Health and Organizations ( University of Nottingham, UK ) points that. “If you start showing symptoms of war trauma during service you are the responsibility of the Ministry of Defense and you have access to a strong network of support and treatment,” he said. “But many people do not develop the condition until they have left the services, once they have lost the supportive network, spending time day to day with people who understand what they have been through and how they feel. Once out of the services, they are the responsibility of the NHS, where many practitioners don't have the experience and specialist knowledge to deal with people suffering from war trauma. And once they have been diagnosed, they can spend up to two years on a waiting list waiting to be treated.”(93)
Who are the professionals who deal first with the PTSD? As a general rule the GPs are the first ones. In the USA, war veterans are supposed to fill a previous formulary made by the National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD) ( Screening for PTSD in a Primary Care Setting in the medical office ) which not only allows to detect such cases but instruct the GP what to do if the war veteran refuses the health mental assistance. Who treat the PTSD? Psychiatrists are the physicians who have specific training in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses. Psychiatrists attend medical school and receive an M.D. After completing medical training, they complete an additional four years of residency training in mental health. In addition to this, some receive additional training in a specific area of interest such as geriatric psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, addictions and other areas. A second important distinction between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is that the last can prescribe medication, while psychologists cannot. There has been a recent push to grant prescribing powers to psychologists, with states such as New Mexico and Louisiana (USA) now allowing psychologists to write prescriptions after consulting with a psychiatrist.( Kendra Van Wagner-How Do Psychologists Differ from Psychiatrists?-About.com:Psychology )
The legal consequences
A group of 280 British ex-servicemen are suing the Ministry of Defense in the largest group action of its kind to seek compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder. The veterans, who between them have served in almost every recent military action involving British forces - including Bosnia, the Gulf, the Falklands and in Northern Ireland - claim the MoD failed to diagnose and treat those suffering from PTSD.(42,45,91)
Veterans with PTSD did not differ from those without PTSD in hippocampal volume, but they did show significantly lower urinary cortisol levels, and poorer memory performance on the Wechsler Logical Memory test and Digit Span test. Smaller left hippocampal volumes were observed in veterans who developed PTSD in response to their first reported traumatic exposure, compared to veterans who had first experienced a traumatic event to which they did not develop PTSD, prior to experiencing a subsequent event that led to PTSD. In contrast, the two neuroendocrine measures were associated with risk factors related to early trauma exposure. (97,98)
The war veteran´s family
The total amount of deaths produced by the sinking of the cruiser ARA ‘General Belgrano’ represents 50 per cent of all the Argentine casualties in the conflict. Thirty per cent were 18 years old conscripts which had an obvious impact in many families. The 1995 research of the INSSJP over 145 war veterans showed that 36.6% had disintegrated families with abandon of one or two parents. A great amount (35%) of their fathers died immediately after the Malvinas war thus increasing the veteran’s sense of guilt. About 64% belonged to a low income class. 74 % suffered discrimination when searching a job. Only 12 % owned a property and 35% lived in precarious situations. (13).The Australian Gulf War Veteran´s Health Study(2003) revealed that veterans were more likely to report fertility problems. (18).The Vietnam Veterans Health Study (partners and children) (1998) of 40,030 Vietnam veterans reported on their partners and children health showed that 36% of the partners were affected by the veteran´s experience, 40% suffered stress, 34% anxiety and 30% depression.21% had problems conceiving a child and 22% had a miscarriage. They had a child with a major illness (27%), psychiatric problem(11%), anxiety disorder (16%), congenital abnormality (16%), cancer (2%), fatal accident (2%) and suicide (1%).(18). The risk of a Vietnam veteran fathering a child with an anomaly was similar to that of other fathers (29).The partners and children of Australian Vietnam veterans study(1999)revealed that children of veterans presented more family conflicts (95).
The war veteran might be inclined to disregard the family; he or she might isolate and not want to participate in important events meaningful to others. And, because the war veteran might appear unwilling to assume certain responsibilities, he or she might come across as lacking concern for others, or self centered. However, again, these responses likely don’t stem from narcissism, but could easily be symptoms of PTSD.(29).This same concepts were issued by Mike Seear and Professor Lars Weisaeth in Buenos Aires at the Women´s Forum on March 28,2007 (52).The long term consequences of an OSI for family members and also for personnel dealing with war veterans affairs may include compassion fatigue and in some cases vicarious trauma. (South Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program)
|What the veteran says||What his family says|
|I feel things at home have changed||I´m scared my spouse has changed|
|I feel I have changed||My kids are acting different and I am|
|I wrestle with irratibility anger and rage||I feel angry at my spouse for leaving me with all the problems and then complaining about how I handled them|
|I feel kind of emotionally numb||I know my spouse had a tough timer but it was tough for me too|
|I have a hard time concentrating||We fight over little things that never used to bother us|
|I have had a tough time sleeping...sometimes I have nightmares||I feel like we have withdrawn from each other; our connection is gone|
|I feel depressed sometimes||I´m scared my spouse will have to leave|
again and I don´t know if I can take it
|I find that I am drinking more||I´ve grown a lot since my spouse has|
been gone and the new me is not going over real well
|I find that I blame myself and feel guilty in some way I know sometimes returning soldiers feel suicidal or they wonder if they have PTSD|
In 1995,according to an Argentine Legal Information Center ( Centro de Informática Judicial de la Cámara Civil ) , there were 1009 accusations of domestic violence which increased to 1601 in 1996 and skyrocketed to 1820 the following year. The Woman´s Municipal Center of Vicente Lopez (Province of Buenos Aires) had 3500 average annual cases of domestic violence. In Cordoba the Assistance Center to Victims gave support as well to 5000 victims. In 1995 and 1996 there were 25,000 average emergency telephone calls for domestic violence in the city of Buenos Aires. About 1700 victims were assisted in 1998 at the Hospital Alvear´s Violence Center, 1200 of which were due to marital violence.500 victims were assisted in 1978 at the Argentine Association for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. It´s estimated that there are 5000 to 7000 rapes per year in Argentina.(PNUD) (71)
Suicides as the 1982 Conflict´s aftermath
The Korean War Veterans´ Mortality Study (2003) among more than 17.000 male military veterans revealed a higher mortality from suicide (up by 31%) and alcoholic liver disease (up by 36%).(18).There are no official data on war veterans´ suicides neither of the Argentine nor the British. (69). In the case of the British this applies to the government, the Ministry of Defense, the army, navy, RAF and even the individual regiments themselves. According to The Pan American Health Organization in 1995 accidents were the most prevalent external cause of death among Argentines 30 years and younger followed by suicide (574 deaths in 1995). From age 30 on, the leading cause of deaths shifted toward cardiovascular disease and malignant tumors.
Information on the prevalence of mental illness in Argentina is very scant.
Data from public-sector establishments are incomplete, but indicate that 2,5% of all hospitalizations were related to this category of disease. (88).In 2002 a shocking little known toll of the Malvinas War was revealed: More veterans have taken their own lives since the South Atlantic conflict ended than the number of Servicemen killed in action. (31,37,63).According to the Argentine Health Minister in 2004 the annual suicide rate in Argentina was 8.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. If we take as certain the number of Argentine war veterans who committed suicide that rate would be 108.7 that is 14 times higher than the rest of the population(35) According to the WHO in 1999 the UK the annual suicide rate for males was 11.8 and 3.3 for women. It has been stated that 4 of every 10 Argentine war veterans have tried to commit suicide sometime (16). Argentina’s veterans believe 460 of their men have died by their own hand.
The South Atlantic Medal Association say they are "almost certain" the suicide toll is greater than 255 - the number of men killed in the war (almost the equivalent of half a battalion of fighting men ). The association estimates the total could be 264, according to a report in the Mail on .Co-founder Denzil Connick blamed the suicide rate on the "stiff upper lip brigade" and a lack of resources to tackle PTSD. They were policemen, teachers, lorry drivers and care workers or simply unemployed. But they had one thing in common. They were all Falklands war veterans, they had all suffered post-traumatic disorders, and they were all failed by the system. It’s hardly surprising that some soldiers and sailors who experience the full horrors of war fail to readjust to civilian life. Haunted by their experiences, terrorized by flashbacks, they develop psychiatric disorders and, in spite of the support of family or friends, succumb to suicide. Among the Argentine and British forces the same question arises: Why him ? why my comrade? Why not me?
Corporal Gunner Eduardo Adrian (Tachi)Paz who served in the Argentine Navy since he was 17 years old (aboard the destroyer ARA Segui) left his home in Rosario on November 22, 1999 and went to the 70 m high Flag Monument from where he jumped. Paz who worked as a painter had six children (3 to 16 years old). (5,31). Former conscript Juan Loncopán from Comodoro Rivadavia who was an employee at the local municipality had 5 children. One night 37 years old Loncopan hanged himself in a soccer stadium leaving note stating he couldn´t cope with the 1982 conflict.(5)
Another war veteran called Ramon Antonio Acevedo (Pucará)was a fisherman from Puerto Vilelas (Province of Chaco)who had 5 sons. He was admitted to a hospital and killed himself with a shotgun. Navy Petty Officer (ret) Julio Cesar Araoz was a maquinista aboard a corvette. When he returned from the war shot himself with a .38 revolver.(69).Romualdo Ignacio Bazan from the province of Catamarca was a sailor aboard the Monsunen. When this last was attacked by the British the Corporal Javier Rivero fell in the cold waters. Then Bazan without knowing how to swim plunged into the sea and rescued his comrade. He received the Medal for Courage. When the war ended Bazan joined the Federal Police where he became a Sargeant. Then in 20006 he hanged himself in his house in Lanus leaving a young former wife and two children (65)
War veterans´sons commit suicide just like their parents
In 2006 the society was shocked when three young lads committed suicide just like their
fathers did (69)
Charles 'Nish' Bruce, an SAS hero of the Falklands and one of the world's top freefall experts, who leapt to his death from a light aircraft last week ( Mr Nish plunged 5,000ft from a plane without a parachute). A former 2 Para Lance Corporal said: "I know that around 37 former Paras who served in the Falklands have killed themselves. Connecting a vacuum-cleaner hose to his car, Ian Cubbold, 60, switched on the engine, took sleeping tablets and lay down to inhale the lethal exhaust fumes and die at his home near Yeovil, Somerset, in 1993. There were no such preparations made by Colin Dreary, aged 31. He simply picked up a knife and stabbed himself to death at his home in Sunderland in 1994. Mark Crown, 39, died in June 1995. He handcuffed one hand to his car steering wheel, doused himself with petrol and set himself ablaze. He left a
wife and two children. Jim Laker was 37 in September 1997 when he launched himself off the roof of a building in Aldershot. Stephen Rawlins, a guardsman aged 38, hanged himself at his father’s home in south Wales on Remembrance Day, 2000.
The American experience
The US military is experiencing a "suicide epidemic" with veterans killing themselves at the rate of 120 a week (1), according to an investigation by US television network CBS. At least 6256 US veterans committed suicide in 2005 - an average of 17 a day - the network reported, with veterans overall more than twice as likely to take their own lives as the rest of the general population. While the suicide rate among the general population was 8.9 per 100,000, the level among veterans was between 18.7 and 20.8 per 100,000. Martin Harbert, 44, hanged himself, leaving three children, in May 2001. Charles Bruce, 46, threw himself out of a plane without a parachute in January 2002. John Hunt, 39, took an overdose of pills in June 2002, at his home in Calne, Wiltshire. That same year, Godfrey Williams, 40, died in Llandeilo, south Wales, after stabbing himself in the heart with a bayonet. (25,27,32)
A study which tracked 320,890 US men, about a third of whom served in the US military between 1917 and 1994 showed that male veterans are twice as likely to die by suicide than people with no military service, and are more likely to kill themselves with a gun than others who commit suicide.(Reuters, June 11,2007).Which ages represent the higher risk ? A study by the University of Michigan and the Department of Veteran Affairs revealed that although veterans diagnosed with depression are not more likely to commit suicide than other civilian patients, there is a significant difference in the suicide rate for younger war veterans. The study concluded that, despite speculations of older veterans being more susceptible to suicide, those within the 18-44 age range showed the greatest suicide risks. The findings were backed up by associate psychiatry professor Dr. Paul Ragan of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Ragan explained that the results have been confirmed in the past by other members of the
scientific community. He also said that suicide risks rise for people in general who are within the ages of 15-24, and those aged 40 and up, explained ABC News.
The cause of unreliable data
In the case of the 1982 conflict just like Vietnam there have been probably a variety of reasons by which actual suicide numbers have been difficult to collect. The following may have interfere with data collection (99)
•Intentionally vague coroner reports
•Coroner's sincere inability to exact cause of death
•Professional's falsifying documents
•Body not recovered
•Refusal by family members to acknowledge suicide
•Job security of surviving family members
•Inconclusion the person served in Vietnam
The Vietnam myths on suicide
It is interesting to note that in Vietnam many statements were quoted which were lately repeated in other conflicts. Those myths state that the Vietnam veterans were driven, or
encouraged, to end their lives by something or someone. Common among groups of surviving Vietnam veterans are comments like,
• "(the spouse) drove (him/her) to commit suicide."
• "(he/she) couldn't keep a job. Employers are against Vietnam vets."
• "(he/she) knew Agent Orange (cancer) would get (him/her)"
• "Too much stress"
• "The (VA or Federal government) refused to help (him/her)"
Can drug addiction be rightly linked to wartime service? Is the problem worse than the Armed Forces are willing to admit?. (ABC ) There are no reliable papers on Malvinas war veterans and drug abuse. However, there have been some researches on the general population which may be fully applied to the war veterans.
Argentina is the Latin American country which consumes more marihuana (21,22). In the province of Buenos Aires, the amount of drug addicts assisted increased from 15,000 in 2002 to 30,000 in 2003. About 300,000 to 500,000 use illegal drugs in such province. According to the WHO the use of the paco ( a drug composed by very toxic cocaine residues ) has increased 200 % in the last four years thus being at the top of the rest of the Latin American countries. (6,83). Notwithstanding, there are no war veterans registered at the SEDRONAR (Secretary of Prevention and Assistance) ( Note 29-9-06). Scientists at the University of South Florida and James A Haley VA Medical Centre in Tampa state that they have definitively linked a common genetic trait to drug and alcohol abuse. The discovery elaborates on earlier suspicions about a gene called mu-opioid. It might eventually help people measure their own risk for addiction, and
help scientists design more effective drugs for treating substance abuse. The researchers found that 95% of study participants who abused alcohol, smoke and used illicit drugs shared a specific variation of the mu-opioid gene (3,4).
Beer sales in Argentina increased from 240 million litres in 1980 to 1300 million litres in 2003 (a 400 per cent increase).(22). ).In Argentina the driver who is a heavy drinker as well has an average age of 45 years old which is very much the age our Malvinas war veterans have (9).Diane England, Ph.D. worked overseas with military families in Italy for five years, including during the first year of the Iraq War. She says that as they did not know about PTSD at the time and had no treatments for it, veterans were left to deal with the symptoms of PTSD on their one. And indeed, to deal with the painful memories and the flashbacks, for example, many turned to alcohol and drugs to self medicate. Then, over time, they became alcoholics and drug addicts. Some of these same veterans who developed PTSD engaged in emotional abuse and verbal abuse, using it against their wives and their children. (29).According to the US National Center
for PTSD, 25-75% of survivors of abusive or violent trauma report problematic alcohol use, this is associated with a chaotic lifestyle, which reduces family emotional closeness, increases family conflict and reduces parenting abilities
The importance of epidemiological analysis
The only way to ascertain the true prevalence of organic and psychiatric casualties of the war among serving soldiers and their relatives is by epidemiological studies. (53).When the British faced subjective complaints among their forces which couldn´t be effectively investigated objectively they compared prevalences with a cohort sample. At the King´s Centre for Military Health Research a study was made in which they compared the health of male regular UK armed forces personnel deployed to Iraq during the 2003 war with that of their colleagues who were not deployed, and compared these findings with those from previous survey after the 1991 war. The statistical analyses was done in the Stata Corporation, College Station, TX, USA). (47,48,51).A similar research was postulated in by the author and Mike Seears between Argentine forces deployed (Mount Tumbledown) and non deployed and a comparison with their British counterparts .(82)
A cohort study is a form of longitudinal study used in medicine and social science. It is one type of study design and should be compared with a cross-sectional study. A cohort is a group of people who share a common characteristic or experience within a defined time period (e.g., are born, leave school, lose their job, are exposed to a drug or a vaccine, etc.). A bias is a prejudice in a general or specific sense, usually in the sense for having a preference to one particular point of view or ideological perspective. However, one is generally only said to be biased if one's powers of judgment are influenced by the biases one holds, to the extent that one's views could not be taken as being neutral or objective, but instead as subjective.
The Veterans´ Cancer Incidence Study (2003)among more than 15,000 male military Korean War veterans alive in 1982 revealed a higher cancer incidence overall (up by 13%)and for selected sites. (18)
The Vietnam Australian Veterans´Sons and Daughters Project has been focusing on resilience and was part of the Australian Government to reduce the higher rate of suicide among sons and daughters of veterans than the Australian norm. It aimed to reduce suicide by increasing personal strengths, coping skills, resilience and access to care. (12,17,59).Unfortunately only 2% of children use the service. Dr Polusny and her research team have developed a program of longitudinal risk and resiliency research focused on National Guard soldiers and their families. Currently, over 2,600 Minnesota National Guard soldiers are deployed to OIF(Operation Iraqi Freedom) (Iraq and Afghanistan) with the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division (1/34 BCT). The study and two year follow up will evaluate the effectiveness of reintegration interventions for resilience in OIF/OEF veterans, measure the health economics of deployment and describe gene-environment predictors of resilience in combat veterans. (72)
The war veterans´s centers
In addition to the primary tasks of fostering pride and friendship among combat veterans, veteran organizations have an important role to play in securing preventive, curative and rehabilitation health services for its members. Combat veterans and veteran organizations can also, because of their experience of the true reality of war, contribute in a unique way towards reconciliation between former enemies and provide support to those who have been exposed to war’s traumatic stresses and suffer from its consequences. (94)
The Peer Support Approach
Healing can be accelerated by the support of peers, health professionals and resources within the community. The Peer Support approach assumes that individuals who have experienced a mental illness can better understand and relate to individuals trying to deal with their mental illness. Additionally it promotes a wellness model which considers clients to be normal as opposed to a medical model which considers clients to be sick. The concept of peer support had its beginnings in 1935 with the establishment of Alcoholics Anonymous which operated under the principle that persons who had experienced and overcome alcoholism would be more effective in assisting others who were trying to do the same. Self help is founded upon the principle that people who share a disability have something to offer each other which cannot be provided by professionals (Clarke Institute 1997).Peer Support do not replace traditional services but offer an alternative to individuals who feel alienated from the mental health system. Peer Support Groups have been available to Canadian Forces personnel and veterans since September 2004. (44).As a result of different motives there might be doubts regarding the possibility of having Peer Support Reunions with different ranks attending the same meetings (19,33).In such regard Commodore Toby Elliot says : ¨With regard to the officer class as a whole, however, are those who have entered the services as officers in the first place who feel the stigma of mental ill health and the effect of "the military ethos" very strongly. They see themselves at great risk of career limitation if they admit they have a problem whilst serving, and so this mindset creates barriers to help seeking and treatment both in service and then when they leave the service. I am quite convinced that the only way to tackle this problem is to set up a separate system for officers where they can seek help, treatment and as a spin off set up peer group support where this is achievable (needs the individual to realize the benefit to be gained by participating in such a program.) Better still, however, in both groups, is to encourage them to join their regimental association and find old friends and comrades they have served with, and discover what a powerful difference can be made by taking such a positive step¨
Goals and objectives of the Peer Support Programs
Most Peer Support Programs emphasize the need for a sound structure of the program. A documentation describing work on goals and objectives offers proof of the task that workers are performing. The participation by consumers is associated with: 1) Reduced hospitalization,. 2) Reduced use of other services,3) Increased knowledge, information ands coping skills,4) Increased self-esteem, confidence, sense of well being and being in control and 5)Stronger social networks and supports.
Types of Peer Support
1) A paraprofessional approach whose workers are supervised by a professionally
2) Volunteer workers who conduct peer support on an outreach basis,
3) Former clients of vocational rehabilitation agencies ,
4) Peer tutors who provide independent living skills instructions,
5) Workers who provide pertinent information on topics such as housing social
services etc. and
6) Workers who provide community networks and activities.
Methods of service delivery
a. One to one basis : The one to one provides greater privacy and is easier to
develop trust .
b. A group basis: The group method put more demands on the person to share and
be active. It requires more skill from the facilitator but they bring about a
powerful feeling of unity.
The Peer Support Counselor
The Peer Support Counselors should have a special training. It´s not just a war veteran giving advice to another or transferring the nuisances to others or generating conflicts with the health officers but a man who may solve problems through the proper channels.The Washington State Peer Support Counselor Training Program has now trained and certified consumers for the past two years. The Mental Health Division conducted eight separate 40-hour trainings in Tacoma, Washington. Approximately 25 consumers attended each 1-week training. Peer Support Counselors become certified by successfully completing the program and passing the certification exam and completing the Department of Health Registered Registered Counselor Program. Health Promotor Agents courses given by the University of Buenos Aires (Agente Promotor de Salud) had a similar training to the Peer Support Counselor although there were certain differences. A promotor is an advocate who promotes health in her/his community and is a bridge between the community and systems of care. The first risk for a war veteran acting as a Peer Support Counselor World be to incur in Existential Authority. This last implies the lack of respect and the withering look the war veteran shows towards anyone who has not participated of his same conflict thus creating a bad attitude among his work-mates being at loggerheads with his employer who may sack him (sometimes in a improper way).Another could be the political risk like the one described in the USA in which a new Tucson based national group offering emotional support for Iraq veterans had another unstated purpose which was to recruit the troubled vets into antiwar activism. ( Vet support group has anti-war affiliations-Arizona Daily Star-Jan 16,2007) .
Functions of the Peer Support Counselor
1. Provides a role model, 2. Becomes a link between the client and the services which are provided through the Center etc.,3. The Peer Support worker drawing on personal experiences provides training in a wide variety of independent living skills.4.Peer Support workers may more readily recognize and address the psychological needs of their counterparts (Varenhorst 1984).
Programs to reduce the suicide rates
The Members Assistance Program of the New York City Police Unions (MAP) have reduced the rate of police officer suicide and increased the level of acceptance for mental health services. In 2001 MAP became POPPA Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance.
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
Thursday, 10 April 2008
Now I know I am being somewhat cheeky but I couldnt resist making a little movie of my own from some of the footage. I will contact BFBS to see if its ok with them to post this. If they give the OK then I will try and put something on YouTube.
I am hoping that other veterans of the Scots Guards might get to see this
Wednesday, 2 April 2008
From left ro right are Guy Skingsley, Maj Jonas Björkqvist and Mike Seear.
Guy is Chief Instructor Languages and is a retired Captain from the British Army whicl Major Jonas is the Chief Instructor of Tactics at the acedemy.
The talk was given as a final part of a 48 exercise being conducted by the cadets on a theoretical international incident involving an EU force consisting of a Swedish element retaking a group of islands called Malvinia.
Having done the talk we were invited for lunch followed by attending the various presentations. My Swedish was just about able to follow the basics and Mike being fluent in Norwegian had no problem adding a few observations. Afterwards we had a tour of the acedemy followed by a few beers in the cadets bar.
All in all a great way to spend a day :)
Tuesday, 1 April 2008
Had a very interesting chat about many topics related to the conflict and we watched the DVD produced by BFBS about the 2007 pilgrimage. I haven't got my copy yet as it went to the UK address and hasn't arrived here in Sweden, will post a few clips when it gets here though so watch this space
Monday, 3 March 2008
He found this story, along with my description of the battle fascinating and in a sort of way it made me different from everyone else in the office. He had, along with my Div 2 Kieth Foly, stayed behind with the HQ Company Echelon well away from the front line. Steve the office Sergeant was of course doing rear party back in London and of the various Pay Clerks that were with the rifle companies I was the only one to have gone onto the mountain.
Or so I thought.
When we eventually came back to Chelsea my status as the "war hero" boosted my confidence and when Steve was posted away my Pay Master promoted me over the heads of 2 senior Corporals to become the office Sergeant. Of course my world collapsed when I was posted away myself but thats another story.
One of the many good things that has happened in the last 12 months is that I have been able to get back in touch with old comrades and have been able to talk to all the surviving members of my Pay Team. Recently one of them came to visit me and we spent a very enjoyable weekend catching up on the last 25 years.
This is when I found out that I was not the only member of my Pay Team who went up on Tumbeldown but in fact John was also up there and in a capacity far different from what I was used for.
My company decided to use all the Corp Attached (and there were quite a few of us) as Company Echelon. They used us as human mules and we basically carried as much ammunition and medical supplies as we could get our hands on.
John's company, Left Flank, decided that they needed more rifles in the attack therefore John was put into an adhoc rifle section that was assembled at the last minute. As Left Flank advanced to contact they came under an incredible weight of fire which instantly killed at least one guardsmen and wounded countless others. John was right in the thick of it with men being hit left and right of where he stood. With the cries of the wounded ringing in his ears John threw himself to the ground and returned fire using up all his ammunition (100 rounds) in a very short time. After this he, along with the majority of the company, moved into whatever cover they could find as progress forwards was completely impossible.
Left Flank were pinned down for hours before accurate artillery and mortar fire was able to be registered onto the defenses and one of the platoons was able to work there way up and behind the Argentine 4 platoon. Once the defence started to unhinge Left Flank charged up and cleared their way forward but John, with no ammunition stayed where he was. Something he says was "not his greatest hour".
I can only apologise for my arrogance John in claiming I was the only member of the Pay Corp on Tumbledown that night. I had no idea as you never mentioned that you were there, or if you did I wasn't really listening being so caught up in myself.
Wednesday, 20 February 2008
A few weeks ago Theresa sent me a photo of her plaque that she wanted mounted on Tumbledown. Well F Coy of the Scots Guards were recently down there and very kindly took the plaque up to the memorial and added it to those already there. They also took some photographs which they passed on to her.
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
Last year one of the many formed Scots Guards I was able to get back in contact with was Right Flanks Company Clerk Dereck Gibb. Dereck and I spent a lot of time together before, during and after the war as his role as Company Clerk and mine as their Pay Clerk meant we often worked together trying to unravel some of the financial mess that young (and old) guardsmen found themselves getting into.
He recently pointed out that I should join the Scots Guards regimental association mailing list on Yahoo http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hielanladdieclubMk2/ which I eventually did and boy am I glad I did. As well as having some nice welcoming emails tucked away in the photograph section are some wonderful photographs of the battalion in 1982.
I first of all have to apologise to anybody if they are upset that I have taken copies and reposted them on my blog. They are however a wonderful window onto a time when we were all younger and less world weary.
Thanks so much Capstar
and Thomas Grieg for making these available.
Alas I didn't find any of myself but there is a cracking one of my Paymaster Captain Denis O'Keefe as well of my best friend Paul Talman. Paul was sadly killed in a car accident in Cyprus in 1984 leaving behind a wife (hi Chris) and 2 smashing kids. I spent many a happy weekend with them at their married quarter.
Also among the photos are a few tantalising hints of the mural that was lost at Ajax Bay. I am still looking for more so if anybody has ANYTHING they think they would like to share please let me know.
Wednesday, 13 February 2008
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
My brother and I would attend Sunday school on Sunday morning getting picked up by one of the church members who also had children. I have good memories of being driven around in a huge Ford Zephyr having many a laugh as the driver would sometimes "forget" the way home and take us on little drives around my home town. My mother and father would alternate who would cook Sunday lunch which was a very traditional affair of a roast with potatoes, veg and gravy and attend church every Sunday.
As my parents were Christadelphians, which is a lay orginization, we had no clergy so instead brothers and sisters (as they called themselves) would give speeches. Sometimes visitors would come from nieghbouring areas and be a guest speaker and sometimes my father would be a guest speaker somewhere. This meant that at times we would go away for the Sunday and spend the day as guests.
Every year a number of functions were held in the meeting hall. These ranged from showing old Laurel and Hardy movies, party games and a host of social events for us children. It was actually quite fun until I became a teenager and of course rebelled aganist it all.
This happened when I was 14 and my brother 10. Instead of going to Sunday School we would bunk off with our bikes and hang around a playground down town. Of course my parents soon found out about this when they were asked one morning why we no longer attended so of course I had to come clean that I no longer wanted to go. My mother was sympathetic and so we stopped going to Sunday School and shortly after this she also stopped attending church.
On joining the Army I was forced to attend church once a month while I was undergoing my 2 year apprenticeship. Of course this time it was a Church of England service and therefore much more formal. Absconding wasn't an option.
When I was posted to the Scots Guards church attendance wasn't enforced.
On Tumbeldown while being shelled and sniped I considered praying to God to spare me but it was more lip service. I can honestly say that having had an upbringing where I was told to believe in God when it came to the crunch I put more trust in the rock in front of me and the all concealing night. The prayer died on my lips, I found God distinctly missing from the battlefield.
Later I was to act as a guard for 100's of Argentines at Ajax Bay. One of the guard posts was located by the door into the officers area and another at the head of the corridor between the officers and the rest of the prisoners who were held at the back of the building. Every day they held mass though it was for the officers only. At no time did the Argentine padre include other ranks, so I guess in the Argentine Army God was an officer.
I have to admit that the Army Chaplain for the Scots Guards was an extremely popular man and was very well liked in the battalion. He worked tirelessly to provide spiritual solice for those who looked for it and also with the families officer as he always had the welfare for the family at heart.
In 1995 I started practising Buddhism and at last found the medium with which I could satisfy my spiritual side. What attracts me is that there is no belief in God but rather that each of us have it in ourselves to awaken our Buddhist nature. It teaches me, if you reduce it to simple Christian beliefs, is that I have the ability to live a good life and that all my actions will effect other around me. It teaches me that I am responsible for my actions, there is no concept of heaven and hell in the traditional sense and that I will find these concepts in my own life and not waiting for me when I die.
This is the presentation he gave.
What are the expectations of Chaplaincy in the British Army and how do they dovetail with an organization whose aim is to achieve operational success? When the present Chaplain General held the post of Deputy Chaplain General, he defined these expectations and the dovetailing process in the following way. He focussed first on the needs of the Army. He said.
It is an organization whose raison d’être, indeed whose overall motto, could be defined as “Prepare for War”, and whose aim is to achieve operational success. For this it requires good leadership, teamwork and a caring approach towards, in particular, the Army’s most vital asset — the soldiers. The Army’s core values are courage, commitment, discipline, loyalty, integrity and respect for others. In combat characterized by hardship, fear and the ultimate possibility of self-sacrifice, soldiers are forced to face up to their own mortality. Spiritual values are therefore of great importance, as these can sustain soldiers in combat.A basic acquaintance with biblical literature will demonstrate how close these core values really are to the values of “faith”. I talk here specifically about the Christian faith, although much relates to core values of other religions and belief systems as well. Without doubt agnostics, humanists and atheists can be proficient soldiers. Many in all three services whose courage and operational successes are not only impressive but also praiseworthy have no religious background or experience. The only call they make on God’s name is in the form of a passionate expletive. Despite their living by their wits and often being just one step ahead of the “law” during their adolescent and pre-service years, one could wish for no better person at one’s side when penetrating closely guarded enemy positions in the crags of Tumbledown or of Mount William in the Falklands.
Yet having said all that, and explained the tradition I come from, I make no apology for saying that those whose lives are shaped by a firm belief in God and in the values of faith already have an appreciation of the core values already referred to. They are aware of the motivation for which these values provide a definite dynamic. Motivation, of course, is also powerfully manifested by the creeds and values displayed by competent commanders such as we had at Tumbledown by unit non-commissioned officers, Guardsmen and soldiers. It can come from Regimental Medical Officers and their staff. How fortunate indeed we were in the Falklands campaign to have Brigadier (then Lieutenant-Colonel) Alan Warsap as our Medical Officer, and then people of the calibre of Morgan O’Connell, the Principal Naval Psychiatrist. Their compassion, advice, wisdom and humanity were invaluable.
Motivation for the soldier engaged in military operations can also come from the confident awareness that family matters on the home front can reliably be entrusted to the Families Officer and his team. While this need has been identified and provided for in the three main British Services, and I dare say elsewhere, it is salutary to see the official recognition given to such important matters in the Introduction to the 2006 document “Operational Mental Health — A NATO Programme Adopted for the 21st Century”, of which one of the co-authors was Professor Lars Weisth. The document was sent to me by Mike Seear, who had also made various contributions to it based on his Falklands War experiences:
The new conditions have led to a change from a one-sided focus on providing and maintaining manpower, to a more balanced doctrine to preserve combat strength while protecting the mental health of personnel at risk. In contemporary military operations and war a wider spectrum of stressor has been identified. War-related Potential Traumatic Events (PTE) exist as always, but service-related stressors and civilian stressors need to receive more attention.
Under the heading of “Professionalism” the same document quotes from the publication “Stress, Appraisal and Coping” by Lazarus and Folkman. They make the point, which is really self-evident, that professionalism and training can enable personnel to cope more adequately with their tasks. That quotation is prefaced by the following statement:
The before-deployment phase can be a much underrated period in terms of laying a solid foundation for professionalism, in terms of supplying adequate and realistic unit training.
Shortly after receiving notification for our deployment, the newly- constituted 5th Infantry Brigade, in which the infantry components were the 2nd Battalion, Scots Guards, 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards, and 1st Battalion, 7th Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Gurkha Rifles, had a preparatory military exercise in Wales. In this exercise an imaginative scenario was planned. Infantry skills and operational requirements were practised. Good leadership at all levels, teamwork and a caring attitude towards its most valuable asset — the soldiers — came into their own. One day, when I visited a company during this exercise, a young officer, who was a convinced and practising Christian, asked me:
“Padre, how are you going to prepare the Battalion spiritually for war?” This really was a question which was never far from my mind but, when posed by this young and thoughtful officer, it became for me a more immediate concern.
Grateful as I was for the many opportunities to address the various companies for character-training periods and regular daily contact with members of the Battalion at all levels, this scenario was to be a new point of departure. If we were to be involved in combat, all ranks had to face up to the possibility of the ultimate sacrifice and be aware of their own mortality. I had by every means possible to give those, for whom I was responsible, some appreciation of the spiritual insights that could sustain them before, during and after combat.
How did I seek to implement this important role? Firstly by my identifying with the Battalion on the widest possible basis by taking part in the various courses on map- reading, radio procedure and first aid. By this time the Medical Officer and I had formed a natural team. Our thinking was so close at so many different levels. We were both, in our different ways, interested in making people “whole” (to quote an Anglican theologian) or in making them as “whole” as we could. Whilst each company was put through a basic first aid course, I was given the task of explaining “Burial Procedure” to each company in terms of our existing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Now the fact that “Burial Procedure” was changed when we got to the Falklands was really irrelevant. What was of importance was that a procedure was adopted which suited our location at the time.
When Headquarters Company came for their first aid course, the Company Commander decreed that the tallest, and possibly the heaviest, soldier in that company should act as the “dead soldier”. Drill- Sergeant Wight was selected — a great character in every sense of the word. Four sweating Guardsmen brought in the Drill-Sergeant on a standard-issue sleeping bag and lowered him down into a temporary grave. Faces were sombre. To defuse the situation I gave a mock “Eulogy” for the Drill-Sergeant. I finished with the words, “OK Drill- Sergeant, you may now join the ranks of the living.”
The Drill-Sergeant then flashed his usual ready smile and remarked, “By God Padre, I hope I will be fully gone when you stand at my grave. It’s an awful thing to be in a grave and see people gathered around it.” Much laughter ensued. His words, however, came back to me when I learned at about 01.45 hours on 14 June 1982 that the good Drill- Sergeant had been killed in the diversionary attack during the Battle for Tumbledown Mountain in the Falklands.
However, I jump ahead of myself, but the “story within the story” had to be told in its entirety. I think at this point of my reflections on events of almost twenty-five years ago it is important, particularly for this kind of audience, for me to say something about my ministry and task as a Chaplain for this venture. In the British Army, indeed in all three services, Chaplains are first and foremost ministers and priests of their Churches. We are non-combatants. We exercise our ministry in the name of our Churches on behalf of the units for which we are responsible. A realistic incarnational theology should expect that we have an intelligent awareness of the ethos, character and role of these units, not least to enable our ministry to “dovetail” into their life and work both on a spiritual and practical basis.
In our Churches, and particularly in the Churches which follow the Reformed Tradition, the expression, proclamation and commendation of faith is based upon the Bible duly interpreted and explained and applied, not only in terms of the historical dimension of faith, but also of its relevance to the contemporary scene in which one is placed. Now it would be strange if, in an audience of this nature, you would all be in total agreement with what I say here, but it is important you should at least be aware of what my thinking about my pastoral role in this scenario was. It should also serve as a useful pointer to the many correlates which undoubtedly there are, on the one hand in that document “Operational Mental Health — A NATO Programme Adopted for the 21st Century” and, on the other hand, in the theological premises on which my spiritual preparation and pastoral care of the Battalion were based. In the final analysis, of course, Professor Lars Weisth is a Psychiatrist and I am/was a Chaplain, but I firmly believe that in future developments of theories and plans in this NATO document, an intelligent dialogue between both these areas of experience would promote even more correlatives to their mutual benefit and enrichment.
Now then, what about the spiritual preparation of the Battalion for war? Did I simply have to proclaim the simple unadulterated Biblical message, and hope that the religious message would somehow underscore the military requirement? That could very well be so. One day, however, during the exercise in Wales, I had a flash of inspiration. Some eighteen years prior to that day, I had read a book which, in a theological sense, gripped us all as students. The book was entitled The Courage to Be and was written by Paul Tillich. The Reverend Professor Paul Tillich was a Professor of Systematic Theology in Germany during the late 1930s. He was one of several German theologians who were forced to leave their posts as a result of the intolerable pressure put on them by the Nazis. Tillich readily found posts at various American Universities, where his teaching flourished and attracted thousands of students.
Why then go back to a book which was printed in the ‘sixties in the search of a measure of light for the spiritual and pastoral task that engaged me in 1982? That certainly is a valid question. However Tillich, as his theological work developed, sought to engage with literature, philosophy, ethics, psychotherapy and several other departments of life. Tillich had, and I believe still has, much to say about our contemporary scene even if, in some respects, the book is undoubtedly dated. He has much to say about courage.
Tillich had seen that for the Existentialist School of writers “non- being” was the greatest threat and anxiety of modern man. He defined anxiety as that state in which a being is aware of its possible “non- being”. Now if courage (which Tillich defined as the power of the mind to overcome fear) does not remove the awareness of possible “non- being”, courage can still take the possibility of “non-being” into itself. This in turn enables courage to express itself in affirmation “in spite of”, that is, in spite of the possibility of “non-being”.
If that piece of theory is somewhat “meaty”, let me now explain how I saw one particular example of it in action. As the Battalion made its final preparations in the Assembly Area before going into battle, I went round to each company to wish them well. As I talked to one Lance- Sergeant in his trench, a shell landed fairly close, burying itself fortunately into the peaty soil. The Lance-Sergeant said, “Better come into the trench, padre, in case the next one is closer.” In fact the next shell landed some distance away. The Lance-Sergeant then looked at me and said, “Padre, if your number is on that bullet or shell, there is little you can do about it” Was that simply an expression of fatalism?