Our traumatised war veterans deserve better

One wonders what KDF wants aspiring service men and women to think if this is how they treat our veterans.

The sad plight of Second Lieutenant John Njoroge Mwangi smacks of betrayal of the men and women who go out of the way to keep our borders safe.

When Mwangi, 30, enlisted as KDF Cadet Officer, he must have looked forward to a rewarding career.

Alas, that never happened. Things have seemingly not been well with him since he was sent to Somalia between 2016-2018 under the African Mission in Somalia.

His family blames the December 2017 attack on KDF’s camp in Kulbiywo that killed 68 of his colleagues of triggering his now worsening condition.

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Five years after his commissioning, KDF has abandoned Mwangi. As this newspaper reported yesterday, Mwangi is now a danger to others and himself. Something has gone terribly wrong.

A Good Samaritan spotted him in the streets of Nairobi wearing one shoe and “looking confused”. KDF’s response that Mwangi is no longer in service is a kick
in the teeth.

One wonders what KDF wants aspiring service men and women to think if this is how they treat our veterans. Elsewhere in the world, the call to serve in the military elicits patriotic fervour. It is a call to national duty. In the US, troops returning from combat are taken into holdings for counselling against trauma.

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Post-traumatic stress disorder is not unique to them. Research shows that all soldiers returning from war zones are susceptible in one way or another. But with proper care and rehabilitation, war veterans can be reintegrated back into society.

Mwangi’s conduct bears the hallmarks of a lack of rehabilitation after serving in war. Does it mean KDF lacks such a programme? If not, how come and should it not be part of the military manual that soldiers receive guidance and counselling because of the nature of their job? We request KDF to help Mwangi and other veterans facing similar predicament regain their sanity. Our gallant sons and daughters deserve better.

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