- Peter Jackson-Lee
- ARRSE Rating
- 5 Mushroom Heads
The book starts with the author trying to describe the feelings and fears that a soldier on patrol experiences, as well as the black humour that is used to try and see him through, and puts it into context with the civilians day. He also helps the reader understand the complexity of the battlefield by starting each chapter with a bit of a history lesson to show how the person got to that particular stage. He explains the purpose of MERT and how they operate as well as the process of casualty evacuation and passage through the different stages; the flight away from the battlefield in a Chinook with the team doing whatever they can to stabilise the casualty to the field hospital to the flight back to the UK and to the Clinical Unit of the RCDM at Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham. He gives a brief description of how the evacuation process has developed since WW1 and the apparatus used as well as photographs and drawings of them.
The main chapters cover the treatment how it is provided. There is a fascinating part where the development of prostheses for missing limbs is described from the American Civil war to WW1 and WW2 up to the present day, and one marvels at the initial crudeness of those early days to the technology available now.
There are chapters which cover facial wounds, blindness, hearing loss as well as mental health and there is a large section (72 pages) at the back of the book which gives contact details for the numerous organisations which can give help and assistance to those veterans who need it, as well as their families who also suffer alongside them. Jackson-Lee makes it abundantly clear that it is no bad thing, or a sign of weakness, to ask for help; in fact he actively encourages it and is to be applauded for it.
The only thing about the book I find could have a negative feel is that often Jackson-Lee criticises the governments of all political persuasions about their failings towards veterans. This could be either through penny pinching civil servants who are indifferent to the veterans plight, indeed the serving soldier as well, and have one eye on keeping the budget down for their performance review to a lack of conviction by politicians of all parties who are quite happy to say one thing on the election trail but are quick to kick these things into the long grass when inconvenient. I found myself agreeing with more or less everything he said in this context, as I dare say many on this site would, but for a book which tries to garner support or sympathy to the subject from someone who has no real idea of what it entails it could come unstuck a little.
Did I enjoy reading the book? Not in the way a good thriller would be enjoyed. Did I find it educational? Not half and I recommend it to all.