I was planning to post about religion today but last night and this morning changed that.
I sat down to watch People Power: The Battle For Trafalgar Square last night. I enjoy programmes that make you think about the people around you and had unfortunately missed last week’s episode.
This week’s followed our imtrepid reporter as he began investigating the treatment provided for former members of our armed forces who’d be injured in the service of our country. It made painful watching. It made me glad that I’d never actually joined the RAF, as I’d planned, seeing how former servicemen have been neglected.
Injured service people used to be treated in military hospitals where staff were experienced in dealing with the wounds that they sustained. In addition they were among fellow personnel with similar backgrounds who understood what they were going through. Unfortunately those hospitals are now closed. The final one closed this year, despite having £35-40 million spent on it in the last 10 years. The reason? Insufficient patients….. Could this be why Bliar supported Bush in Iraq?
Now the only hospital that deals specifically with service personnel is Selly Oak and that is only a unit within the hospital. One of the subjects told the story of his arrival in the UK from Iraq. He was rushed from the airstrip to Selly Oak and left in Accident and Emergency. It was the early hours of Sunday morning and it was busy with its usual drunks.
As he was pushed in to see the Registrar he was told to remove his uniform in order not to cause offense to members of the public attending the hospital. After he was examined he was told that nothing could be done but to report to his GP on Monday morning, he had a fused spin. He was given a walking stick and discharged. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t know where he was and had no family in the area, as he comes from Scotland.
We also met Denzil who is a member of The Patriots bikers club near us. They are a club who’s members are all ex-service personnel. He lost a leg in the Falklands. He has a raw nerve exposed on his stump that causes extensive pain and needs an operation. However he’s waiting to see a specialist – he has been for 7 months.
Upon discharge on medical grounds injured personnel are provided with a certificate that entitles them to priority service on the National Health service. After all it was sustained in service of their country. Is 7 months “priority”?
No matter where you stand on the Iraq war, or even the armed forces in general, do you really think that our people should be treated in this manner? They are paid less than most of us for what they do. When they manned the Green Goddesses in the fire strike in ’03 they were covering the firemen who were trying to get their wages increased from £21000 to £30000 for a 4 day week. A private earns £12000 and a corporal £15000 a year. Is this right?
Then I started reading Tim Collins’ Rules of Engagement. He was the CO of the 1st Battlion Royal Irish who gave the great rallying speech to his troops before they entered Iraq. It must be good because I started at 0630 this morning and had read 120 pages by the time I left for work at 0930.
What he had to say about the state of readiness of our troops leaves a lot to be desired. They didn’t even have desert camoflague uniforms to fit the troops prior to deployment in Iraq. Our troops are lucky to get 1 set of night vision goggles for 4 men. The US army has individual goggles for all. Our body armour was supplied without the coverings necessary to use them.
Politicians are ready to sacrifice our people to further their ideals. They are ready to put people into situations in which they should not be but are not there to standby them afterwards. Not just those injured but people suffering from PTSD.
All US troops are examined for PTSD as a matter of course. If they have it then they are counselled at the taxpayers expense. This is something that the US people are happy to provide for their troops. They have dedicated provision set aside for the treatment of all veterans, places where they are treated with other service personnel who are their to offer support and comfort.
What stops us from doing the same thing? What stops us from providing basic kit to all prersonnel? Where are our tax monies going?