Posted Monday 7 September 2009
Dispatches, Channel 4, Monday 7 September 8pm
Why is it that the military take the time to prepare our soldiers to fight but they don't prepare them for the battle of post traumatic stress disorder when they return from the frontline?
This evening, Channel 4's Dispatches programme looks at the emotional scars of war on soldiers when they come back from active service. David Modell's powerful documentary includes interviews with several young men who are struggling to adjust to civilian life while dealing with harrowing memories from the frontline. Many turn to alcohol to cope with the nightmares or end up lashing out in despair.
As Mind's Get it off your chest campaign shows, young men feel uncomfortable talking about their problems at the best of times, so trying to penetrate the macho culture of the armed forces and get young soldiers to open up and seek help is a difficult task. The result is that some of these men will suffer is silence with tragic consequences.
The Ministry of Defence estimates that only 4 per cent of army personnel experience post traumatic stress disorder. However, with many men keeping the problem to themselves to avoid being perceived as 'weak', and no formal monitoring of the statistics, the true figure is completely unknown. How can health services be prepared to provide adequate support in the future when they don't even know what they are dealing with?
Post traumatic stress disorder can take over a decade to surface, long after active service and when many will have lost touch with the armed forces. Civilian services and the charity sector will be left to pick up the pieces and they are not best equipped to provide the specialist support that is needed. We are sitting on an emotional timebomb which we can only be prevented from going off by acting now.
Find out more and watch excerpts on the Channel 4 website
Alison Kerry, Head of Media
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