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Tuesday, November 12th 2002 - 20:00 UTC
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Falklands veteran helps islander he saved as a baby - Telegraph; Shame of flowers for the vanquished - Express & Star; Falklands Veterans Honoured by Prince ? Daily Press;
Tribute to Colonel H ?The Sun; Dying inside from wounds you can't see ? Times

Falklands veteran helps islander he saved as a baby - Telegraph

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Steven Hughes returned to the Falkland Islands last week and operated on a man he had treated as a child twenty years ago. Hughes had been a medical officer with the Parachute Regiment when he had attended to an infant released from Argentine captivity. He kept in touch with Matthew McMullen's family over the years, so when Matthew broke his leg and the necessary surgical instruments and expertise for the complex operation were unavailable on the islands, his mother contacted the veteran medic. X-rays were despatched from Port Stanley to Mr Hughes In Birmingham. As he was planning to travel to the Falklands on a war pilgrimage with a party of veterans, the surgeon agreed to perform the operation himself. Mr Hughes flew to the Falklands last week with 200 other pilgrims and five trays of surgical instruments, weighing 90lb. The 90-minute operation, which involved putting a metal rod down the middle of the tibia and fixing it with a bolt, was performed on Saturday at Port Stanley Hospital. The pair first met on May 29, 1982 when soldiers of the 2nd Bn the Parachute Regiment unlocked the doors of the Goose Green community hall in which the Argentines had held the 115 settlers for 29 days. Four-month-old Matthew was the youngest captive. The islanders had been ordered into the hall and were kept prisoner - with no bedding, no baths and only two lavatories - until the paratroopers recaptured the settlement. During his captivity, the baby suffered from diarrhoea and severe nappy rash. When the villagers were freed, his mother, June, took him to Mr Hughes who treated him with Dioralyte, a salt and sugar solution. "It was a huge relief when Steven and the other soldiers arrived," Mrs McMullen, now 54, said yesterday. "I shall always be grateful to him." Mr Hughes, who works at Birmingham's Heartlands hospital, said baby Matthew's illness could have been fatal. "He was the first civilian patient I treated and the only baby." He has since visited the family twice and is staying with them during his current trip. Mr McMullen, a labourer, broke his leg in four places while playing football and would normally have had to fly to Britain or Chile for the operation. He is expected to leave hospital today. He said: "Of course I don't remember anything about the events of 20 years ago, but as a community we respected the Paras immensely. I wanted my broken leg to be done by Steven because I knew I could trust him." His mother added: "If there was ever a time to break a leg then this was it."

Shame of flowers for the vanquished ? Express & Star

Prince Andrew was deeply moved as he paid tribute yesterday at the Argentine cemetery in the Falklands. The little cemetery has a profound effect on all who see it. Some years ago I visited it, and had a bizarre encounter with the price of war, and the lunacy of politics. This is the column I sent: The story of the flowers is enough to make your heart bleed. Brook Hardcastle, general manager of the Falkland Islands Company, told it as he entertained us to lunch at his home in Darwin Settlement. Here, in 1982, high-explosive crashed and tracer flickered through the night sky as the Paras fought their way up the narrow neck of land towards a collection of huts called Goose Green. The scars remain. Mr Hardcastle points with pride to the bullet holes where stray shots peppered his comfortable, timber-clad house on that extraordinary night. A knocked-out Argentine gun is on display in his garden, aimed impotently at the sapphire-blue creek where he caught our lunch, a 12lb sea trout, a couple of days ago. Not far away is the Argentine war cemetery where the glare from 250 white wooden crosses hurts your eyes as the sun blasts down from a deep azure sky. Some have names. But most of Galtieri's half-trained conscripts were not even given identity tags and their graves carry the motto: "An Argentine Soldier Known Unto God." Most of the British bodies have been brought home. Today, just twenty-five remain in the neat military cemetery at Port San Carlos, overlooking the landing beaches of "Bomb Alley" where enemy pilots showed such courage. But there is no going home for the Argentinians, not as long as Buenos Aires refuses even to discuss the matter. Meanwhile, the unending saga of claim and counter-claim to these islands turns even the simplest gesture by heartbroken Argentine families into a bureaucratic morass. To send flowers to the graves of Los Chicos de la Guerra (The Children of the War), relatives must first pass them to the Brazilian embassy in Buenos Aires. The pathetic little parcels are then flown 7,000 miles to Britain, handed over to our Foreign Office, put in the diplomatic bag and flown 8,000 miles back to the Falklands. The Governor, Gordon Jewkes, dispatches them by helicopter to Mr Hardcastle who in turn takes them to the cemetery. The tiny bouquets never have names, he says. Just messages in Spanish like "My Beloved" or "My Little Dove". So he places them by whichever of the crosses catches his eye. Walk northwards from Brook Hardcastle's home over the springy, gale-bent heather and you come to a small valley leading from the seashore. On the left of this valley is a cairn of white stones; on the right, about 100 yards away, a timber peg driven into the thin earth. Here, Lieutenant-Colonel "H" Jones launched his desperately brave one-man attack. The timber peg marks the trench from which the fatal burst of machine-gunfire came. The cairn shows where Jones fell. The colonel's grave is at Port San Carlos, a sprig of pink blossom brushing against the VC carved into the headstone. For the victors, there is no shortage of flowers. For the vanquished, unknown in these distant graves, come occasional posies, wilting from the idiotic, unforgivable, 15,000-mile flight that pride and politics demand. ? This column was dispatched from the Falklands in 1988. A few years later, after much lobbying, the rules were relaxed to allow bereaved Argentine families to send flowers

Falklands Veterans Honoured by Prince ? Daily Press

Fallen British war heroes were yesterday remembered in commemorations stretching across 8,000 miles. The Queen led a minute's silence at the largest Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph in London, which was also attended by Prime Minister Tony Blair. As the Queen laid a wreath at the national war memorial, her son, the Duke of York, was paying his respects thousands of miles away in the Falkland Islands. He attended a service in the capital Stanley to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1982 war with Argentina. Some 200 Falklands veterans attended the poppy service and wreath-laying in the remote South Atlantic territory. They marched through the centre of Stanley, proudly wearing their medals from the victorious campaign which recovered the islands from Argentinian invaders. The widow of a Falklands War veteran awarded the Victoria Cross spoke at the weekend of her pride at the "wonderful victory" achieved by the troops during the conflict. Sara Jones was speaking after taking part in the annual Remembrance Parade in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear. Her husband, Colonel H Jones, was awarded the prestigious medal after leading an attack on enemy trenches in May 1982 during the conflict. He lost his life during the assault on Darwin and Goose Green, which led to the release of imprisoned islanders and forced the surrender of 1,200 enemy soldiers. Mrs Jones said: "It is so important we never forget the price paid for our liberty."

Tribute to Colonel H ?The Sun

THE widow of Colonel H Jones yesterday saw a plaque unveiled to the Falklands hero ? at the place where he played as a boy. Sons Rupert, 32, and David, 35, joined mum Sara at the ceremony in Kingswear, Devon, 20 years after their brave father's death at Goose Green. A blue plaque set into the wall along the slipway of the River Dart bears the Para's name and the tribute: "For Valour." The car ferry across the river was halted in respect for the colonel ? posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. Sara, 58, said: "I am extremely proud. "He spent most of his childhood here and he loved the place. I think he'd be amazed to think that the ferry actually stopped for him."

Dying inside from wounds you can't see ? Times

Suicide, homelessness and problems with drugs and alcohol are rife among ex-service personnel. A former soldier says it's time the Ministry of Defence recognised post-traumatic stress and began to treat it FEW OF US remember war. Not on the grand scale. Various emergencies and conflicts we remember. Northern Ireland. Bosnia maybe. The Falklands was a war, but brief, and far away. Few of us have lost anyone we know to war fighting. Yesterday, on Armistice Day, we were asked to remember the killed, the almost meaningless six and seven-figure statistics, the blurs of names on memorial rolls. We do not so easily remember the wounded. And we scarcely think at all of those who return apparently unscathed from our various crises and peacekeepings. But high rates of suicide, homelessness and imprisonment among ex-service personnel suggest that, for many, the trouble starts on civvy street. Old soldiers never die, goes the old saw, they simply fade away. But old soldiers are getting younger; the average length of service in the three Armed Forces is now only four years and most servicemen who have experienced the intensities of operational duty leave in two to four years. For many, this is a personal choice. Peacetime soldiering can seem pale, offering neither the intensity ? the amplified sense of life and its fragility ? nor the savage freedoms of operational life. Most make the transfer seamlessly; assisted by the Ministry of Defence's resettlement measures, they adjust to the challenges and banalities of life outside the service. But there are many who struggle to emerge from the long shadow of military life. In more extreme cases, the relative lawlessness of combat can make a man unfit for normal life. Some end up addicted to alcohol, and/or drugs, in prison, or confined to the slowly shattering treadmill of unskilled or short-term jobs. Many become homeless. Up to a quarter ? some say more ? of the homeless in London are ex-military, and most of them are ex-Army, according to Shelter, the homeless charity. Perhaps this is just in the numbers, an anthropological matter, a sad, simple demonstration of the way the unfittest survive. But perhaps there is more to it than that. Perhaps there are more precise causal links between military service, and especially operational service, and the cycles of addiction and despair that affect so many former service people. A significant proportion of them are suffering from undiagnosed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. George Smith, the former royal valet who claims to have been raped, acknowledges that his military service in the Falklands led to PTSD. The South Atlantic Medal Association points out that each year an average ten Falkands veterans commit suicide; this means that more have killed themselves than the fewer-than-200 who died during the conflict. This is not too difficult to understand. The delicacies of human difference have never been the MoD's first concern. The Armed Services exist to implement Government policy by threat or delivery of force of arms, most effective when most predictably mechanical. In this arena, hearts and minds have never been a priority. But the machinery of conquest will always grate on its softest part, which is the man. And softer even than the flesh, itself torn easily enough, is his mind. This is an area in which I must declare an interest. Fifteen years ago, as a 22-year-old Light Infantry platoon commander, I was blown up in a terrorist bomb attack in Belfast. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, in which I received shrapnel injuries to my head and face, my apparent cheerfulness and determination to return to operational duty were accepted as evidence of all-round health. No questions were asked about the possibility of psychological damage, neither at the time nor in all the confusion leading to my discharge 18 months later. It is difficult to determine whether this was medically negligent or simply unimaginative. It is interesting to think what might have been had my own PTSD been caught and treated. I might have stayed. I might have done quite well; I was a good officer. I'd be a major now, fat and happy, commanding my old company perhaps. I might have liked that. Instead, like many former soldiers, I have lived a peripatetic existence; a strange, stumbling tour of crummy jobs and failed relationships, never quite settling, never quite taking root. Meditation, therapy and writing have all helped to bring me to terms with what happened; it's been a journey I feel oddly proud of, and bored with now. My experience is, it transpires, anything but uncommon. Dr Dafydd Jones, the senior consultant at the Ty-Gwyn Treatment Centre in North Wales and a pioneer in the rehabilitation of traumatised ex-servicemen, confirms that rates of diagnosis for PTSD and other psychological injuries resulting from service remain incredibly low. It is difficult to get a firm line on this from the MoD. A senior spokeswoman at the Army Medical Directorate (AMD) will say only that the Army's view on PTSD is "in a process of evolution". Nor can anyone tell me whether the Army has yet introduced standard medical procedures for the treatment of the psychologically injured on or after duty. But the MoD's slowness to acknowledge the existence of PTSD and openly to investigate its incidence is only part of the reason why so many damaged soldiers are left undiagnosed. A huge factor is the reluctance of serving and former members of the Forces to recognise the psychological damage in themselves and to seek help. This is what is tragic; the way the military establishment and the sufferer mirror each other, conniving, albeit accidentally, in the non-acknowledgement of the damage soldiering does to a man's mind. The military culture, particularly that of its fighting arms, is still an unapologetically masculine one. It is an old-style masculinity too, exclusive, hard-edged, believing in its own display, in its ability to "hack it" come what may. The infantry, in particular, cultivates a fantasy of ruggedness and readiness for insouciant violence. And this image, on the collective level, seems to endure. It is at the level of the individual, however, in private, in the hidden places of the mind that the fantasy fails. Publicly, in a culture that frowns on signs of weakness (and fears them), there is no place for psychological damage. The Forces have a whole vocabulary for those suspected of avoiding their duties: it is disturbing to imagine how many scrimshankers and malingerers, how many shot deserters even, have been suffering from the medical condition that, even today, the MoD will not name. Nor, worryingly, is there yet any way for a serving member of the Forces to obtain reliably confidential medical advice. It is unsurprising in such an environment that psychological problems remain so heavily stigmatised. Even without the repressive influences of these social factors, PTSD is hard to understand, harder still for the affected individual to comprehend and work with. Traumatic injury often arises out of experiences of profound or shocking loss of personal control. Forced to receive information it cannot accept, the mind defends itself, numbs instantly and grows callouses around the memories of the traumatising event. The traumatic wound comes to lie in a place between remembrance and forgetting. A flesh wound forms a scar that stays behind on the body for good, showing the place where the skin could not perfectly replace itself, could not entirely forget. It is like this with the mind, but a mental wound, when repressed or unrecognised, stays open, unsealed. It may lie below the level of easy notice, but it does not go away, and clamours subtly for treatment. Neither ignorance nor willpower is enough to keep a mental wound from expressing itself in the sufferer's life. This is why so many former servicemen who suffer from PTSD are prone to other, more overt, disturbances, such as alcohol and drug abuse, relationship breakdown and violent behaviour, often in an unholy, mutually supporting cluster. It is also true, of course, that many of those who join the Forces are somehow unsuited to survival in the "normal" world outside. I remember my own first visits as duty officer to the Naafi bar at closing time, feeling like Luke Skywalker in the Cantina. Never had I seen such a gothic assembly; thugs, misfits and monsters. The military life attracts many who would in any case struggle to socialise in the safe, civilian way. The tough, the maladjusted, products of disturbed families; all have traditionally come to the Forces for a home, for discipline, for a sense of belonging. Perhaps some are already carrying predisposing seeds of what, under extreme circumstances, becomes psychological illness. Military life serves as a sort of splint or plaster cast for minds that have been injured by service. Removed from that protective and explanatory context, those minds and lives begin to confess their wounds. Dr Jones reports how frequently he comes to treat men who, returning from operational duty, begin a cycle of heavy drinking, fighting and other disruptions, often culminating in prosecution by either the civil or military courts and SNLR discharge (Services No Longer Required). Once again, the core disturbance has gone unrecognised. Worse still in these cases is that the SNLR on the individual's record is often enough to deter a future employer. Individual cases are not hard to find. Darren, known as Scouse, is a thick-set man of 35. He looks older. He spends most of the day around the bottom end of the Strand, near St Martin's, where there's an internet place that stays open 24 hours. Most nights he sleeps across the river, near the National Theatre. Scouse was with the Household Division in the Gulf War. Not that he says much more about it than that he saw things that he'd rather not have seen. Tony, 45-ish, was a Para; he shows me his Pegasus tattoo. Whether he was really in the SAS I rather doubt. He left the Army in the mid-1980s, his marriage ended, his drinking went up a gear or two. Aside from two short spells inside, he's been on or near the streets for the last eight years. Not that you'd necessarily know it. Tony keeps himself in good order; he washes in the day-centres. He won't use the hostels though ? they're too dirty, full of smack heads. He has a nice jacket, new, fake Versace; nicked it from a posh pub, he says. Whether he will detox as he says he will is hard to know. I give him the two quid he asks for anyway. I spent a few nights sleeping rough myself, as a way of meeting guys like Scouse and Tony. I can see the connection between the military life and homelessness. Street life imitates and recalls some of the emergencies of combat; the paring down of one's wants to needs, the toughness, vigilance and self-reliance required. Street life keeps you on an operational footing, on your guard and in need of safety. It would not be fair to say that there is no help for ex-service personnel. The Ex-Service Fellowship Centres (EFC) offer immediate short-term assistance to anyone who has served in the Armed Forces or Merchant Navy. But only a minority of those who would benefit from treatment seek it, as Commodore Toby Elliott, chief executive of Combat Stress ? which provides help to those suffering from psychiatric problems attributable to their years in service ? admits. What is clearly needed is in-service treatment of at-risk personnel, which would counterbalance the stigma of service-related trauma and introduce the idea of treatment. This would have the double advantage of helping individual soldiers and slowing the exodus of men ? particularly the combat-experienced, a valuable but vulnerable group. Targeting such training is not especially complicated. Everyone who has been exposed to death or injury, or to the pronounced risk of the same, can be said to be vulnerable to psychological injury, and should be given routine rehabilitative training. It is as simple as that. It is hard to avoid the sense that at the heart of the issue is an unresolvable conflict of interests. The essential aim and principle of war is to close with and kill the enemy. It may be that this principle and the experiences it inevitably entails can never be married to the harmonies of the healthy mind. It is also salutary to note that, even without war, the Forces have sustained 1,700 noncombat deaths in the last 12 years. That's around three a week. Around 250 men who served in the Falklands have just returned to the islands in what is being described as a pilgrimage. It is striking that the effects of a war that was kindled, fought and won in weeks are still being healed 20 years on. Interesting word to use, too ? pilgrimage. For wounds inflicted in the machinery of war, recovery must include something of the soul. BY ANDY ARKELL

Categories: Falkland Islands.

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