Is this a common feeling?

Something from a blogger who speaks of Army life after he threw the blog open to civilians with questions re. Army life.
Cookie Monster asked:
"how do you feel when you hear the british action in afghanistan and iraq criticised? im guessing it must make you feel pretty unloved/unappreciated back home here in blighty. is that accurate?"

Tricky - I'm not entirely sure that the media are against us per se. Certainly in the early days of the Iraq deployment the press was primarily anti-going-to-war rather than anti-British-Army. At the end of the day the media are after a story and sometimes we are an easy target.

Some stories really irritate us - e.g British soldiers caught taking drugs - this story runs regularly but all it really illustrates is that a) We randomly drugs test all our employees and b) If they are caught we kick them out.

The other stories that I wish were dealt with in a different manner are the allegations of 'war crimes' in Iraq - these stories do raise tensions in the theatres of operations and on at least one occasion it would appear that the publication of story led to an attack resulting in the deaths of two soldiers. I think we - in the army - are fully agreed that anyone breaking the rules should be dealt with - but why not wait until the outcome of the disciplinary hearing before publishing anything.

Do we feel unloved? - No I don't think so but as Richard Holmes pointed out in Dusty Warriors these days there are very few people in the country who know someone well who is serving. So unloved - no, not understood - yes.
What do we think of this as an answer?
It is a very pertinent observation. We all know lots of people who are serving. It is normal to us. Friends of mine are regularly (or possibly reservely?) giving up civvy jobs and popping off to Iraq or Stan. One is going next month, godspeed.

However if you stop somebody at random in the street and ask if they know a serviceman well, then don't be surprised to get a "no" answer. If you do the mathematics - or arithmetic if you are old like me - it isn't so surprising. The government admits to there being about 59 million British citizens. It has managed to reduce the armed forces to 180,690 effective strength. That means only 1 in 326 people is a serving soldier, sailor or airman. Playing the statistics game, approximately 0.3% of the population are in the services, 0.15% of the population is in prison! you are statistically more likely to know someone who has never worked or is in longterm unemployment than who is a serviceman or woman.

No wonder there isn't much understanding of what it means to serve your country but everyone seems to know how to get the right benefit or scrounge up some media cash!

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