I am currently viewing a Channel Four programme on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder involving soldiers. This has long been a subject ignored by the Ministry of Defence because if they begin to recognise the mental trauma that soldiers can suffer then their compensation claims would never cease.
I well remember my service in Northern Ireland in the seventies and eighties which I believe would be nothing like as stressful as that experienced by the lads currently serving in Afghanistan and I know how it affected me and my family. One minute a soldier is out on the streets expecting to be shot at and building up the mental reserves to be prepared to kill someone and the next one has to come home and be a husband and father. It is just not possible!
It is still my contention that in order to maintain order and ensure that soldiers fulfill their military roles the army has built up a macho image where soldiers are encouraged to ignore their mental health and are actually scared to report any feelings of inadequacy. In order to complete their tasks a soldier has to hide the fear and uncertainty. He/She cannot allow themselves to dwell on what could happen. They switch off and concentrate on what they must do.
This however will only last for so long. Eventually the inevitable will happen because despite their training, despite the bravery, despite the remarkable resilience of the average soldier the mental toll will eventually register. If you do not believe me then try reading some books involving the real heroes of the SAS. Many of them end up wrecked!
The army cannot afford to recognise the real affects of PTSO because if they do then we will never recruit sufficient numbers. Personally I am still amazed that they still recruit like they do but then in the times of hardship created by NoLab then many of the lads do not have an option. The money still encourages the risk.