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Suffering from PTSD is enough punishment for KDF soldiers

By Iregi Mwenja | Jul 7th 2017 | 2 min read

After serving this country in Somalia, KDF soldiers return to a very indifferent society and a hostile employer. If incidents of the last few months are anything to go by, our society has a long way to go when it comes to mental health awareness.The “invisible wounds” of combat-related PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) affects not only the soldier, but also those around him or her. Innocent Kenyans are paying for it, some with their lives and that of their loved ones.

News reports indicate that several servicemen who returned from Somalia have died on circumstances that could be blamed on PTSD. Joash Ochieng Magar, committed suicide after was sent on indefinite leave after he exhibited signs of mental instability.
In April last year, Mutua Kyombo shot dead his girlfriend Elizabeth Kivuva, in Kitui before fatally shooting himself after engaging police in a shootout.
According to American statistics, one in five veterans of the recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffer from PTSD. Though we are probably worse off than our counterparts in the west, it seems that neglect of servicemen who have served in war zones is the norm.
The common denominator here is that once the political class is done with you after serving their interests abroad, you’re are left to your own devices. And if you are unlucky to be Kenyan, you get charged even after being diagnosed with PTSD. Isn’t suffering from that terrifying condition enough punishment or sacrifice for one’s country? What mechanism do we have in place as a society to ensure returning servicemen and women get the support they need to return back to their normal life? Do we have any accommodations (special treatment for people with mental illness) for people suffering from PTSD at KDF?
We are guilty collectively of neglect as a society. We have already forgotten about the Baragoi and Kapedo survivors. They are most likely suffering the psychological consequences of the attack silently.

PTSD is a serious physiological mental disorder that can be life threatening if left untreated. PTSD’s symptoms range from nightmares and hallucinations to anxiety and inability to control emotions, and is often accompanied by alcoholism and substance abuse.
Research done by Americans and Israelis have shown that veterans with PTSD are three times more likely to divorce than veteran counterparts not diagnosed with PTSD. They are also are more likely to perpetrate physical and psychological aggression against their partners, with rates as high as 63 per cent for some forms of physical aggression.This week, we are raising awareness on PTSD. Anybody can suffer from this condition and the consequences can be tragic. Please be compassionate to our soldiers when they return from Somalia and help them seek help to stabilize them psychologically.The Author is The CEO of Psychiatric Disability Organization, which campaign for compassion and support to people suffering mental illnesses. He can be reached on: [email protected] Website: http://www.pdokenya.org
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