This is a thought provoking look at the long term impact of combat on military veterans, covering an impressively wide range of topics. We start with a series of chapters on those veterans who were wounded - looking at how they are evacuated from the battlefield, medical systems behind the front line, the sort of injuries most commonly suffered and the impressive treatments now on offer. Each of these sections also includes a historical survey, generally looking at the last century or so, from the First World War onwards. We then move on to examine the less visible wounds – the problems caused by drugs and drink, mental health issues and the impact of the family. Finally there is an examination of the relatively new Armed Forces Covenant and the military charity sector.
One significant problem is that we are often told quite contradictory things, sometimes on a single page. This occurs in particular in the sections on mental health and criminality, where we are told both that ex-servicemen are less likely and more likely to be involved. In some ways this is a problem of the sources – different research projects have come up with different results at different times, and there is often a difference between overall figures and more focused research (with combat veterans far more likely to suffer from problems than support staff). The problem here is that the various figures are
I don’t agree with everything the author says, in particular his views on the various inquiries into possible crimes committed by British service personnel in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. How some of these inquires have been handled can be criticized, but not the basic principle that members of the British armed services have to be held to high standards (even if their opponents don’t obey the same rules). This is especially true when operating on home ground, but also in our recent overseas wars, where one key to success has to be winning over local support. I also disagree with the idea that these investigations should be entirely be carried out by the military – the opposite side of the Armed Forces Covenant is that the military had to be seen to live up to those high standards, and self regulation is far to discredited to give that reassurance.
However these are minor flaws. Overall this is a thought provoking and moving look at the problems faced by military veterans, the systems in place for helping them, and the impressive way in which the vast majority of veterans cope with the stresses they come under. The author’s own military experience gives this a level of authenticity that would otherwise be missing. There is also a very useful summery of the military charities, their roles and how to contact them. This book is of value for non-veterans, helping to give an idea of the problems faced by former members of the military, and for veterans, demonstrating what help is available.
Evacuation from the Battlefield
Transport the Casualty to Hospital from the Battlefield
Amputation and Prosthetics
Facial Wounds, Face Masks, Deafness and Blindness
Drugs, Alcohol, Prison, Homelessness and Depression
How it Affects the Family
Armed Forces Covenant and the Third (Charity) Sector
List of Charities (August 2018)
Author: Peter Jackson-Lee
Publisher: Brown Dog Books