Monday, August 17, 2009

Ex-military Personnel enter the Criminal Justice System post Operations in Afghanistan

Approximately 8,500 ex-forces personnel are currently in prison owing to a multitude of offences, primarily drug, alcohol and violence related. It has been estimated that these figures could double in the next 5 to 15 years due to individuals suffering from PTSD and other health problems following repeated operational tours in Afghanistan.

Whilst we hear about the deaths of our servicemen and women in Afghanistan, rarely do we hear about the very large numbers suffering physical injuries and mental trauma. The latter is particularly difficult to measure; however, the reality is that levels of depression and PTSD experienced by service personnel and their families is profound, often resulting in family break up and increasing alcohol and drug abuse. Many subsequently leave the service and return to civilian life, this time alone, confused and more frightened than when they were on operations.

Combat Stress and other charity groups are working hard to help address these issues. Notwithstanding, many servicemen find themselves unemployed, angry, depressed, confused and in ill-health, with increasing numbers entering the criminal justice system. Is this how we are to repay our servicemen and their families for putting their lives on the line?

With a relatively small investment, most could be helped to regain their former pride, confidence and self-respect, once again becoming valuable members of society. Will society take on this challenge or will we rest on our laurels and hope that others will do it for us?

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