Sunday, 1 March 2009

Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry V.C.

Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry V.C. has spoken out about the iniquitous treatment of servicemen and women and former colleagues. He is still serving, still suffering flashbacks, still having nightmares and still in constant pain as a result of his service in Iraq. He applauds the personal medical treatment he has received for much of the time, though he had to wait three hours in a hospital waiting room for emergency treatment for excruciating pain, but says rightly that the Government depends too heavily on charities to support the bruised and broken people who return from theatres of war. Some of them are so badly damaged that they may never be able to lead a normal life again. Many of them live on the streets. Few experience an undisturbed night's sleep. Most have terrifying flashbacks to the contacts they have been involved in and experience uncontrollable surges of anger in reaction to otherwise trivial incidents. These young people have been trained, and trained well, to kill and yet they are not given the help they require to enable them to adjust to non-combatant life.

It can take many years for the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to be revealed. In the meantime, there are on the streets, in the supermarkets, driving cars, walking in the parks, a huge number of personnel who show no outward signs of mental illness. Facing the trivial stresses of daily life which may make civilians mutter and curse has unpredictable effects on veterans and those still serving; they react with frightening speed and hostility, thanks to their training and no thanks to the too-long periods they have spent in life-threatening situations.

Will Gordon Brown speak honeyed words and then turn his back on them and lean again on the charities which bring some respite to their troubled souls? Will he turn his attention away from the stuttering financial institutes long enough to pledge money and assistance?

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