On Anzac Day we commemorate those who gave and are giving their lives in service to our nation.
In actual fact, some of them have given and are giving their lives in service to our government, without the blessing of the people. I want this to change.
We are grateful for the sacrifice of our men and women in the Forces, but I believe I speak for many when I say that we would like more say in whether the cream of our manhood and womanhood are deployed in foreign arenas that have no direct bearing on our security.
Government still argues, to save face, that we fought terrorism in the Middle East and that it was a necessary battle-front. That is so much poppy-cock. You do not fight fanaticism with weapons. You target hearts and minds. Fighting terrorism with weapons only spurs on the fanatics to further acts of terror. Truth be known, the original acts of terror, including the attack on the United States’ twin towers, have been in retaliation for interference by the United States and others in Arab affairs.
Terrorism is a Hydra. Hydra was a mythical monster who had the power, when one of her many heads was decapitated, to grow two heads in its place. That is terrorism. The wisest thing that the United States and the allies have done is to withdraw from Afghanistan.
However, that leaves Australian veterans of that region on a limb. Only forty-one of them died on the front. More than three times that number have since taken their own lives. The Powers-That-Be theatrically throw up their hands in horror, but they know it is they who are at fault. Our diggers know that the war was a waste, a waste of life and of resources, and they feel they are a waste. We cannot let them continue to feel that. We must sheet home the blame for the waste to where it belongs. Government must apologise publicly for its stupidity in engaging in that war, apologise to the remaining veterans, and compensate them with, not token medals and war memorials that the public can ooh and aah over, but solid financial and social support.
They must not be discharged from a company with which they have identified, heart and soul, as “unfit”. They must remain part of the Services until they are found satisfactory employment elsewhere in which they can take pride. They should be consulted as to the sort of work they could handle and feel good about. My brother, for instance, on return from Vietnam, was only happy getting dirt on his hands and sweat on his brow. Hard yakka. Coal mining, then construction work, then he was given charge of supervising construction work, which he did till he retired. He did not consider hard yakka demeaning.
My husband learned a few South East Asian languages while serving in the regular army overseas, and became a lecturer in Asian languages.
Some men would feel at home working with animals. Others might like to take up apprenticeships – in painting, in mechanics, in building, in cooking, in landscaping, you name it.
The physically wounded fare better. They have the Invictus Games and other supports, and their wounds are visible and engender some sympathy from the bureaucrats and others in charge of their fate, but the mentally scarred are shamed and treated as malingerers.
I consider psychotherapy, dragging them through haunting memories, to ‘heal’ them, as so much flim-flammery. It is obviously not working. I am sure there were traumas as horrible in the two world wars, but there were nowhere near as many suicides. Men, and women, simply got on with it, repressed the memories, and dealt with them only in nightmares. That is the purpose of nightmares. You don’t bring nightmares to life. The mentally disturbed need assistance to cope, not to have salt rubbed into their wounds, reliving horrors.
In this case, anyway, psychotherapy is a smokescreen. It is not the horrors of war that are causing our soldiers trauma. It is the knowledge that their lives and efforts have been a waste. What ails them is the overwhelming burden of knowing that they have lived through the horrors of war, and that some of their mates have tragically not, for little more than to dubiously honour Australia’s diplomatic ties to the United States of America. The Powers-That-Be could lighten that load by taking on the shame and blame in place of their present hypocritical, self-righteous stance. And the public needs to know and understand and sympathise with the true reason why our soldiers need our loyalty and support.
They also need practical help – a roof over their heads, if they are living in cars, as some disgracefully are. And they need employment, and while they are looking for employment they need the public to understand and stand by them, and for the government not to pretend to them that the government didn’t make a mistake in sending them off to battle. The vets. know better.
We need no more suicides. I am gambling that someone in the upper echelons is vetting my blogs and will read this and see the Truth in it, and get some action going to save our veterans.
Perhaps I am being too harsh, expecting too much, because I have a personal interest in this matter. If I were totally impartial I would say instead that what really needs to happen is for the leaders of the United States and their allies to swallow their pride and admit that they were arrogant and stupid to believe that weapons would defeat terrorism. Terrorism springs from hate. And hate springs from injustice and violence. You cannot defeat hate with violence and antagonism. The leaders of the United States and their allies need to understand and admit their mistake, and agree that their protagonists can only be defeated by humility, understanding, patience, love, and compensation for past wrongs.