June 14th 1982. The liberation of the Falkland Islands. A day that saw the end of a conflict that shocked the world. It claimed 256 British soldiers, 649 Argentine and 3 Falkland Islanders. As a child myself at the time, I experienced first hand the reality of war. It was, and still is, a highly emotive war and the celebration of today is merely one end of the emotional spectrum. Those involved have their own personal feelings about this war, with what are sometimes deep and dark emotions. The appreciation of what British servicemen did and went through in the 74 days of battle, grows on a daily basis.
Returning to normal life…
For the Islanders, life has now gathered some sense of normality. The devastation left on the Falkland Islands has now gone other than the mines. The Argentine military laid 30,000.Clearing them is a huge task, and dangerous. Saying normality has returned doesn’t mean it’s life as it was. Modern ways are replacing traditional but the Islands uniqueness still remains. Economically, the Islands have developed substantially. There is still tension with Argentina, but this is seen as a part of normal island life.
Moving on, a dream for some…?
Battles such as Mount Longdon (nicknamed ‘The Bloodiest Battle’) involving soldiers, many of whom were not old enough to watch an 18 cert film, have left their scars. This was especially true for 3 Para. For those who never returned, families, friends and comrades still mourn. For those lucky enough to return live with visible and invisible scars. Simon Weston CBE, a Welsh Guard, is probably the most high profile serviceman with scars on 46% of his body. Scars that are visible are difficult enough to cope with but so too are the invisible ones. There is a rise in PTSD but there is also still a stigmatism. Understanding of PTSD has developed and finally people are speaking out about their anger, grief, shame, guilt, the list goes on.
A Helping Hand.
With the rise in the need for help, those suffering can now reach out to multiple causes. Branches of the military have specific charities helping, not only servicemen, but the extended family, in more ways than just psychological support. The growth of charities there to help psychologically has grown. One charity helping is Combat Stress. In 2012 it was helping 210 Falkland Veterans ranging from 46 to 74, and these are only those who have reached out. Growth of causes helping with rehabilitation, re-adjustment to civvy street, financial issues etc…. has also been seen. The fact we are more open about it is an incredible achievement and the more ‘normal’ asking for help is deemed, the hope is fewer will feel they need to suffer their unique horrors in silence.
For my part.
As mentioned earlier, my appreciation of the armed forces and what they do has grown with me. What those men and women did for the Falkland Islands, The Islanders and democracy is priceless. We will always be indebted to them. For me, their actions were life changing. They have given me a meaning, even if it is just to be a constant voice saying ‘Thank You‘, you are appreciated, as much today, if not more, than 37 years ago.
BBC News: By Caroline Wyatt Defence correspondent, BBC News