In early November, the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Children’s Fund published the first in-depth investigation of the effect of war on forces children, The Overlooked Casualties of Conflict. 60% of spouses say their children had increased levels of fear and anxiety when husbands or wives went to war, and 57% reported increased behavioural problems.
The report includes the story of an eight-year-old boy who found the images of body bags on the news so overwhelming that he hanged himself.
Separately, it was revealed in mid-November that the MoD has been paying as little as £3,000 compensation to mentally traumatised soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. 4,916 cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been identified in returning British soldiers. 67 have committed suicide since 2003.
Peter Doolan, 28, diagnosed with PTSD in 1999, after serving in Kosovo, was medically discharged in 2007. Despite having hallucinations, severe depression, and a tendency to violence – even when sleeping – he receives compensation of just £60 a week.
Doolan told the Sunday Times: “They have no bloody idea what it’s like for us. I think they must hate soldiers.”
Meanwhile, US soldiers are committing suicide at the highest rate since records began in 1980. Suicides in the army alone have passed last year’s record of 140, in addition to 71 suicides of soldiers taken off active duty.
Puzzlingly, a third of those committing suicide had never been deployed in combat.