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Battle Scarred - Channel 4 - Mon 7th @ 8pm

#1
Channel 4 have asked me to bring your attention to Battle Scarred - a Dispatches programme going out shortly which also has its own website. This is the initial press release and I'll post some more this morning.

I understand that at least one ARRSE user features in the programme.

______________

Channel 4 is today launching a brand new website to support the Dispatches: Battle Scarred film which examines the psychological trauma suffered by many soldiers returning from combat zones. The website offers additional films by award-winning film-maker David Modell and exclusive embeddable video clips of interviews he conducted with ex-soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The site covers four topics; mental health, relationships, alcohol and suicide and each features a series of video clips from ex soldiers and their families about how each of these has directly affected them. The stories reveal the devastating impact of war - from the suicide of loved ones to how lives can be wrecked by trying to battle the demons of war with drink or drugs and how marriages and relationships can falter when a returning soldier tries to adjust to life back home. Photographs and video clips taken by serving soldiers with their mobile phones provide a snapshot of the realities of life on the frontline in Iraq and Afghanistan and the site also features a series of powerful portraits of ex-soldiers, taken by David Modell.

There are also research articles into the background of each topic and a chance for anyone affected by them to comment on the issues and share their experiences. There is a section for Help and Support and links to other websites which discuss the impact of combat on the psychological health of the people who serve in our military.

Please visit the site at http://www.channel4.com/battlescarred More information on Dispatches: Battle Scarred which airs on Monday 7th September at 8pm on Channel 4:

Dispatches: Battle Scarred

As the number of British soldiers returning from Afghanistan in coffins exceeds 200, award-winning filmmaker David Modell examines the devastating trauma suffered by so many surviving soldiers that leaves no visible scars but great psychological injury. The programme documents the lives of four soldiers who have been left with serious psychiatric problems as a result of their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. To many here, the conflicts may seem remote, but this film provides an intimate portrait of their devastating impact on the lives of individual soldiers and their families. During 20 years of service, Danny, 36, saw action in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and the Gulf but it was only after returning from his most recent tour of duty in Iraq that everything fell apart. Stationed north of Basra, he spent much of the time inside soft-skinned portacabins, under constant mortar attacks. The feeling of helplessness affected him deeply; they talk about 'fight or flight' you're not running anywhere and you're not fighting- you're just sat there waiting'. After one particularly close call he says he became a changed man.

Once back at home Danny became seriously paranoid, believing Muslim fanatics were going to kill him while he slept. He needed a weapon to defend himself and his family, and 'acquired' a pistol which he kept by his bed. Unable to cope with his disturbed state, his wife left him and Danny moved into the barracks. After a suicide attempt Danny's regiment sent him for psychiatric evaluation and he was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder- but that didn't mean he was to get any help, quite the opposite. He was charged with possession of a firearm and sent before a court martial. He was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison.

Jason grew up with Danny and they were life-long best friends, they both signed up for the army as teenagers and were best man for each other at their weddings. When Danny first spoke to Modell he told him he was concerned for his friend Jason. A few days later, as Danny is filmed by Modell for the first time, he reveals that Jason has hung himself at his army barracks.

Just before his death, Jason had told Danny and his mother that he had killed an Iraqi man and could not deal with the guilt and he developed uncontrollable anger which he directed at his wife, leading his marriage to break-up. He turned to alcohol as he sank into depression. His parents describe him having a breakdown when he stayed with them over Christmas; 'He was lying in bed making this noise' says his mother, 'It was like a suppressed scream'. Never having been offered any help by the army, Jason felt unable to ask, fearing it would make him appear weak. Modell follows Danny as he attends Jason's funeral and appears as a witness at the army's internal inquiry into his death.

Martin, 22, served as an explosives expert on the front line in Helmand, Afghanistan. He found it difficult to adjust to civilian life on his return and was sent to prison when he was found in possession of plastic explosives in his bedroom. He now drinks heavily and up to a litre of vodka a night to help him sleep and block out his vivid nightmares. He shows Modell the two enormous knives he has stashed either side of his bed for protection - from a threat he can't identify but one that leads him to crawl under his bed for safety. He claims that during his 'decompression period' in the army he and his comrades were encouraged to: 'Get pissed and fight, nothing will come of it just get it out of your system.' Aware that help was available, Martin refused to speak to anyone in the army about his problems for fear of being mocked or the effects it might have on his career.

As member of the Territorial Army, Dave completed two six-month tours of duty in Iraq with only a few weeks break in-between. Towards the end of his second stint, the vehicle he was driving was blown up by a roadside bomb. Miraculously he escaped uninjured but was put straight back on duty. His comrade Rob, who was injured in the explosion and received medical help and counselling, explains:'I think the military have got this thing that if you're in an incident and you haven't got any physical injuries then there is nothing wrong with you. I think that is the most stupidest thing that anyone can think.' On returning to his London bedsit, the sum total of help Dave received was a standard letter from the army telling him how he could seek help.

Unable to readjust to normal life, Dave committed suicide, gassing himself in his car. His devastated mother asked the army if he could have a St George's flag on his coffin and if he could be buried in his uniform - they refused. She tells Modell that: 'It was if they just discarded him, they were ashamed of him for taking his own life.'

Examining the consequences of long and repeated tours of duty, the film raises serious questions about the adequacy of existing support structures to help returning soldiers cope with any trauma they may be suffering.
 
#4
It looks like ARRSE will have a presence (not me!) at the pre-screening of this at C4 tonight, including the chance to air views in a discussion of the programme. If you would like to gets your views aired therefore, now is the time to post.
 
#6
about time it recieved more press! with the things that are going on in afghan and iraq recently, Combat stress are going to be busy a few years down the line!
 
#8
Okay, as GoodCo has posted above, there will be an ARRSE presence at the pre-screening tonight, and in the absence of any other posters stepping forward to declare an interest, I'll put my head up now (anyone else going?). If nothing else, this should reassure you, that I will be checking here over the coming hours for comment.

An audience of 70 odd will be attending. Included in this number are representatives of the RBL, Combat Stress, MOD Psychiatry and various clinicians. Additionally, others who have undergone treatement for PTSD or Psychological Trauma relating to service.

So, all for getting the message across - what are the points that people need to hear?

Over to you.
 
#9
ok, lack of NHS treatment for sufferers of PTSD, my little visitor appeared on my shoulder 10 years after i left, go to NHS and was told "ex services, self refer to combat stress" it appears to me that the NHS (and i will back the NHS to the hilt) use combat stress as a means of getting the numbers off their books. Just a thought.
 
#11
Seen, noted buttonsin3s - aware of that observation. Will ensure that the point is made in the debate.

I will just point out that I am not the member of ARRSE featured in the broadcast.
 
#12
The benifits agency, oh how they make me laugh. Went to sign on for JSA, due to PTSD, i am not available to look for work every day (some are better than others), therefore i am not entitled to JSA, ok, so they say i can get incapacity benifit, i go to the interview, tell the docs that i WANT to work, benift stopped. I fecking give up, really. The war pensions agency aint much more helpful.
 
#14
There needs to be a change of culture regarding this debilitating (And sometimes fatal) condition. Not just at Officer level but amongst the boys too, how many are suffering in silence because they feel ashamed? Ashamed of what? They are wounded and should be seen as such. Until the stigma is removed and soldiers feel safe that their careers will not be fouled by self referal, then we are going nowhere fast.

We ALL have a responsibility to watch out for each other.
 
#15
i had the same problems with the benefits agency! its a nightmare trying to sort that lot out!
luckily i managed to get the war pensions people to sort it out and they took over with the incapacity type payments
 
#16
The_Coming_Man said:
There needs to be a change of culture regarding this debilitating (And sometimes fatal) condition. Not just at Officer level but amongst the boys too, how many are suffering in silence because they feel ashamed? Ashamed of what? They are wounded and should be seen as such. Until the stigma is removed and soldiers feel safe that their careers will not be fouled by self referal, then we are going nowhere fast.

We ALL have a responsibility to watch out for each other.
Indeed we do TCM, very good point about being ashamed. I've just got back to being in touch with the old Regimental Family, what i noticed in the yearly magazine was this, there was an advert in one circa 1984 i think, where they actually sounded pleased that no Scots Guardsman had referred to CS after the trip down South in 1982. All my instructors in the depot had been there, seen it, got the t-shirt. So it was a case of soldier on, dry your eyes and get on with it.
 
#17
buttonsin3s said:
The_Coming_Man said:
There needs to be a change of culture regarding this debilitating (And sometimes fatal) condition. Not just at Officer level but amongst the boys too, how many are suffering in silence because they feel ashamed? Ashamed of what? They are wounded and should be seen as such. Until the stigma is removed and soldiers feel safe that their careers will not be fouled by self referal, then we are going nowhere fast.

We ALL have a responsibility to watch out for each other.
Indeed we do TCM, very good point about being ashamed. I've just got back to being in touch with the old Regimental Family, what i noticed in the yearly magazine was this, there was an advert in one circa 1984 i think, where they actually sounded pleased that no Scots Guardsman had referred to CS after the trip down South in 1982. All my instructors in the depot had been there, seen it, got the t-shirt. So it was a case of soldier on, dry your eyes and get on with it.
How many went on to suicide? I know Op Corporate veterans have an horrendous rate, more than died in the conflict itself allegedly?

The bravery of some of the lads who go on to develop PTSD should be proof enough its not a matter of physical courage or mental strength.
 
#19
Indeed, the Op Corporate suicide rate is now higher than the men killed in action. To be honest that is what worries me about the present conflicts, i do not want anyone to go through what i have gone through, the unfortunate thing is that they will. The only book that i have read abot the present conflicts is Col Tootals account and i can only think "here we go again". I've met a few guys both in Tyrwhitt House and Holybush House who have come back from sandy places, seems to me that the MOD are not learning lessons from previous conflicts.
 
#20
tropper66 said:
would some of you on this thread go over to the PTSD GAME thingy and out your feelings across about trying to include PTSD into a shootumup
Sorry trooper, looked at it this morning, guy is a feckwit, i can't even entertain it. It's one of those that if i get involved i would be the next MDN.
 

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