Mental Trauma Training

There's a recent thread on the R Sigs forum which set out to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the brutal murders in Belfast of Cpls Howes and Wood. It makes interesting reading because it obviously provoked painful old memories which might never have amounted to PTSD, but which flare into arguement when scratched.

With General Dannatt heading a campaign to raise more cash for Combat Stress in anticipation of the raft of injuries to come from Afghanistan. How can the MOD address the issues of low to medium level mental trauma? And what can it do to desensitise young minds to the horrors of war and thus make them less susceptable to crippling mental injury?

On another thread, someone mentioned that country lads often suffered least when confronted with blood and gore. I would tend to agree with that because I was a yokel who understood that animals were food and went rough shooting for rabbits and such. It never occurred to me at the time that I might see things differently to my townie friends, but on reflection there were those who didn't like the sight of blood or doing first aid and others who were afraid of the dark or complete silence, so I suppose there was actually, quite a lot that didn't bother me.

Would it help for training to include being present at a post mortem? Could not trained psychotherapists have a place on websites like ARRSE to stimulate discussion and manipulate argument as a form of healing for low level trauma?

With so much care and official intervention (equality, diversity, human rights, anti bullying, child protection etc) around these days, there's little doubt that whilst the army still finds deprived areas fertile recruiting grounds, the mental strength of many of those recruits is inevitably less than that of previous generations. How can that be reconciled with the unchanging horror and brutality of war?

Are there already training measures in use?
Nothing, and I really mean nothing can prepare you for the first time you are at a bomb scene, the assault on your senses is beyond beliefe
I found that the team medics were better able to deal with the sight of blood when I was out and about in sandy places.
Seems to make sense? Not when you consider that the TM course is only about 18 hours of instruction. Not a great deal more than BCD.
I wonder if the instructors use of gore videos on the laptop was to give a little jolt. I think, for some, the jolt was enough to inspire them to think "this is something I might one day see. Should I prepare myself in some way?"

I doubt a view of a post-mortem would help. It's too neat. When I've seen post-mortem videos, I havn't really felt an emotional effect. It's like watching a car being repaired, as to me the human element is removed. Might be different for other folks though.

In my view the best way to reduce witness-trauma is frequent chats. Perhaps there should be more TRIM practicioners? We had one per platoon. One per section might be better. I wonder if it would be possible to reduce the taboo about combat stress. Some sort of a less formal process, but still supported by guidelines, for a soldier to seek support following a stressful incident.
The problem as I see it is that in our 'society' we endeavour to raise our young people to be law abiding and where possible decent and humane.Unfortunately active service can mean that all these values are besieged by the sudden disintegration of civilisation.Training prior to combat goes a long way to transforming ordinary people into active ,often lethal combatants.This of course is essential,we want our fighters to be competent,capable and robust, both physically and psychologically.The challenge comes when having completed the transformation and having 'done the job' the soldier is then simply returned to society,with it's laws,social norms and mundane demands and tasks.This transformation is much more poorly resourced and confusing.When this is combined with the memories of trauma, regret and even guilt that comes with having survived let alone been injured,The person that has become the soldier can find himself caught between two profoundly different worlds.While still in service it can become an issue of necessity to simply hide any concerns or feelings under the need to carry on, and often more importantly, be seen to be able to cope and continue to soldier on.While this can be a substantial burden there are mechanisms within the Army's culture both formal, and especially informal that offer help and support.It is often discharge,with it's subsequent loss of role,status.purpose,and identity etc. that eventually leads on to feelings of isolation and despair when the memories and emotions that have been contained in order to cope,begin to seep out and often 'flare up'.It is then that the now civilian person can need the empathy of others who have actually experienced the actions and consequences only to find themselves 'outside the fence' and without access to, what may well be, the only support network they have any faith in.The current conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan have left many of our people damaged and in need.These needs are both significant and Complex at times,and they will unfortunately continue to be so for the foreseeable future.The roles of the Army,Regimental Associations and Agencies such as S.S.A.F.A.,'Combat Stress' are of course evident, but the need for continued support long after 'the guns are silenced' will need to be driven home consistently and for as long as needed.It does seem to me that other non traditional areas such as the Media will need to be encouraged to sustain it's current interest and support of the Armed Forces,and the public will need to be consistently reminded that their Soldiers etc. did what they did,and received the consequences of doing so in their name,The debt owed to the Armed Forces will need to be respected and paid,especially when Soldiers return to being 'Ordinary'!
Yeah, I agree. My mate is a Falklands vet and it took him until the evening of the 25th anniversary to finally spill the beans. I never suspected until then. I don't think videos are much good because there are plenty of PC games and films around that have taken away the movie shock factor, a post mortem involves smell as much as anything, as clinical as it is, mind you, some cases can be more awful than others.

Would there be any benefit to either party in having traumatized vets talk to recruits, I wonder?
Take them on a professionally run stalk/hunt for deer, stags etc. Then gut the animal. Do this a few times and they'll feel more 'inoculated' to the scene.
Also proper training in the physiological effects of Stress: (see excellent books by Col Dave Grossman 'On Combat' and Alexis Artwohl 'Deadly Force Encounters')


It has nothing to do with all the shite of how our society is soooo soft now, blah,blah,blah.
It is all about how events good or bad that can trigger your emotions. And these can put you out of your normal control, and we are all different.
It's down to perception and how you deal with situations throughout your life (or in other words how you go about things). People who are perfectionists, attention to detail freaks, sticklers to the systems can be more prone to stress, depression and PTSD. And we all can hide emotions for a long time until somthing triggers it (2 day after the incident or 50 years??). Unfortunatley most people see it as weak, unmilitary or gay.

Trauma Training and understanding of psyco problems are only now starting to be taught and talked about in detail without major prejudice due to common grounds being found between younger and older serving personnel and veterans with the same feelings and problems.

Forgive the spelling as I'm mental.
Who has posted here that 'society is sooo soft now blah,blah etc? Society is as it always has been bloody confused at best and bloody hypocritical at worst!The problem is that while Soldiers are expected to cope, and while serving generally manage to( either that or mask it well),the traumas some experience leave scars and can haunt for the rest of their life. If it is that a genuine effort is being made to assist both serving soldiers and prepare them for discharge with a clear strategy of how to cope or how to access assistance as a right not a favour. no one will cheer louder than me!Unfortunately there are literally thousands of accounts of veterans having to simply suffer the consequences of their service often becoming isolated and profoundly distressed/mentally ill.
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