Thanks Tarlita. RSL sounds more like a social club to me. KFUM is also a kind of social club but with, I think, a more intimate atmosphere.
Gallipoli. Talk about a waste of lives. An ANZAC equivalent of Somme and Verdun.
There are of course also various veterans organisations. I was a member of two but I left one, The Blue Berets, some years ago.
There is now a whole system in place for soldiers both when on deployment and afterwards. When a unit has been in a sharp situation there is a debriefing immediately afterwards. A kind of psycological brainstorming. Then there is the "buddy-system" where you look out for eachother and psycologists in place at the main camps.
When the soldiers return home, they are not immediatly discharged but granted a leave to see their families after which they most show up for duty again for a period. Gradually replacing deployment life with civillian/garrison life.
Then there are follow-up contacts and questionaires and opportunities to come and seek council for those who may have issues.
As well as now the KFUM Soldier Homes.
Soldiers still in service are encouraged to talk about their emotions between themselves when they feel like it.
Nowadays the main psycological after effects stems from combat stress and combat fatigue.
Yet, despite all this there are at any given moment several ex-soldiers living in the forests here in DK.
It has been estimated that the majority will not suffer from particular longterm after effects. Readjustment is the key.
There was no such thing in my time.
It wasn't that it was considered un-macho to talk about such things, we just didn't. It didn't come natural I think.
It happened from time to time that someone was send home with a depression and they were quitely discharged and left in the care of their own GPs and what the local municipality could come up with, - who really didn't know how to handle such cases.
You can prepare yourself for snipers and mines, even casualties but none of us were prepared for the feeling of sheer frustration.
We were there as peacekeepers, we were meant to make a difference, we should and could have made a difference. Even though we weren't combat troops we were trained and equipped well enough to have stood up to the undisciplined rabble that constituted most of the militias there.
We were willing but we were not allowed to make a difference. Some UN bureaucrats preferred to do nothing, absolutely nothing! It's worse than being helpless.
That led to a lot of anger issues, bitterness and depression.
And most of us were let back out in the society with these feelings penned up inside us.
Most of us moved on, some started to drink, others vented their frustrations on their families, others hid it all away and they are now paying the price for that.
It was our field chaplain (back then they were the closest thing we had to a psycologist) who gave us a very sound piece of advise when we returned. Instead of getting furius when people back home complain about trvialities, be glad. If people complain about what's on TV or the neighbor's lawnmower, then they live a very priviledged life, and that's wonderful.
Anyway, there is another issue I hope Mary will take up at some point.
Children. It's difficult to explain a child aged eight or ten what it really means that dad, brother, uncle, sister is serving in Afghanistan. It has been realised how much it really affects such children. Children follow the news as well, without really understanding it, they observe their families and see the worry but they don't talk about it to their families. They don't talk about it to anyone, because their teachers are not geared for it and nor are their friends and classmates.
Adult relatives can talk to and find comfort with other adult relatives but the children are rarely included.
That has fortunately been realised now. And I think Mary may wish to engage herself in that.
M&F's good friend Peter Heering has been deployed to Afghanistan twice, albeit in the rear, Caroline and Peter Heering's children are too young to understand much anyway, but in regards to concern, Mary now has very close friends who understands the issue first hand.
Thanks for the video, Fairlytale.
Mary was genuinely praised for her commitment and interest in the issue by the leader of the KFUM home, Ester.