Soldiers heart’.

 

Most Fridays at around 11 am I can be found in my favourite tea room, sipping Earl Grey and delighting in a Garibaldi biscuit, the only pressing concern, when to order my next pot of tea and ‘mmmm those bourbons look nice’. 

Today however was different, at 11 O’clock the tea room fell silent as the radio in the corner played the bells that signaled the beginning of the two minute silence marking Armistice, an opportunity for us to remember those who have given their lives in war.


I was surrounded by individuals who were deep in reflection, when the radio came on again, it was noticeable that the energy in the room prior to the silence had ebbed away; clearly the event had left it mark.


I declined a refill of tea and walked home to write this blog, which brings me to the title, ‘Soldiers heart’. 


The term was first coined in the American Civil War (1) every generation of solders had their own terms , in WW1 is was called Shell Shock (2) , American servicemen returning from the Pacific after WWII called it ‘Going Asian’(2).


In 1980 the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD (3) entered the language after physicians treating American Soldiers who had returned from Vietnam with psychological problems noticed a connection between the extreme fear or stress of battle and a cluster of symptoms that psychologically  affected individuals after the event, these include:- 


Re-experiencing


Flashbacks of the event , nightmares, reliving distressing images or sensations. 


Avoidance


Avoiding any situations or people that might trigger flashbacks 


Hyper vigilance


Being consistently ‘on guard’, not being able to sleep


Emotional Numbing

 
Isolating ones self, trying not to feel , hiding away.


Other symptoms include depression, alcohol and drug misuse, chest pains diziness and nausia.
Most striking is the number of ex military personal in prison or homeless in 2009 the Telegraph  newspaper reported that ‘more than 20,000 former servicemen are in prison or on probation or parole’(4) the figures were gained from a report by published  NAPO ( national association of probation officers).
A recent survey by the Charity Shelter and the Ministry of defense (5) showed that 1 in 10 homeless people are ex service personal.

One of the contributing factors to both homelessness and crime is amongst ex service personal is PTSD.


So perhaps it is not surprising that as I sat in the tea room, in those two minutes of reflection, I thought not only of those who had died, but those who are still fighting their war long after the battle is over.


‘Lest we forget’.

References
https://ihcenter.org/projects/soldiersheart (1)
http://www.gowarriorsproject.org/misc-entries/-soldier-s-heart-or-civil-war-ptsd (2)
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Post-traumatic-stress-disorder/Pages/Introduction.aspx (3)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/6229067/Twenty-thousand-servicemen-in-prison-on-probation-or-parole.html (4)
http://honourourwounded.co.uk/CustomContentRetrieve.aspx?ID=1145647http://honourourwounded.co.uk/CustomContentRetrieve.aspx?ID=1145647 (5)http://www.veterans-uk.info/homelessness/ex_serv.html
http://society.guardian.co.uk/gall/0,,1475566,00.html