Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Damaged Minds - Reducing Re-offending by Ex-Military Personnel

One Hundred military personnel have now been killed in Afghanistan this year. Over the last few months there has rightly been increasing support and recognition for our forces and the professionalism and bravery that they display.

Whilst those killed and suffering multiple physical injuries are remembered and supported, regrettably, little has been said about those returning home suffering with severe injuries of the mind and brain. Because such injuries are not visible to the wider society, support and understanding is often conspicuous by its absence. Many of these men are now struggling to survive, unable to find work, cope with life or let go of the nightmare memories. As a result they often seek escape and solace through substance abuse, particularly alcohol. The practice soon becomes a habit resulting in acts of petty crime and violence. Evidence is indicating that such cases are increasing rapidly and that without support, re-offending rates by these once proud individuals will rise further.

Having experienced the trauma of often daily contact with the enemy and laid their lives on the line in the face of increasing danger, surely these men deserve better than incarceration into our justice and prison system. This cannot be seen as justice and will certainly not reduce the likelihood of them offending again.