I am currently sat watching TV and most of the channels are talking about the Invictus Games. The brave soldiers being interviewed have all been obviously physically wounded. I believe it is a great idea and it is great the physically wounded are being recognised for the sacrifice they have given for their countries. I had a friend who was taking part in the games and he had been terribly wounded so I am not writing this to knock the games or those taking part in any way. I think it is an absolutely fantastic idea and so many courageous warriors took part from many different countries but I have just one concern. What about those of us who have been mentally wounded….
So I look on the website for the Games and it states: “The word ‘Invictus’ means ‘unconquered’. It embodies the fighting spirit of the wounded, injured and sick service personnel and what these tenacious men and women can achieve, post injury”…..”Invictus Games competitors are the men and women who have come face-to-face with the reality of making a sacrifice for their country. They are the mothers, fathers, husbands and wives who put their lives on the line and suffered life-changing injuries”…
For all those who returned from tour without physical signs of being wounded, how does that make you feel? Have we not put our life on the line for our country and returned with a life changing injury? The answer is YES!!! You just cannot see our wounds. Throughout the build up and the actual games how many of you watching heard the word ‘PTSD’ or saw any PTSD sufferers being interviewed? I saw none. In fact 3 UK representatives are taking part and have no physical injuries; all 3 had been diagnosed with PTSD. Also 17 serving members taking part from other countries also had a sole diagnosis of PTSD. Of the total number taking part in the games 39 had a confirmed diagnosis of PTSD stated in their online biography. Of this number 19 had suffered physical injuries on tour and PTSD was secondary to this. The UK had 7 competitors in the games; 4 of which had physical battle injuries. Did anyone know this from any of the interviews aired or recorded? I would suggest for the main the answer is no….
How has my injury affected me? I have changed, I have lost my partner, my home and a career I have been in for almost 20 years and thought I would be in until I retire! All this is due to an injury received whilst on tour…..Post Traumatic Stress Disorder! It is just as much a wound as a physical one. I have lost the freedom I once had to go out socially with friends due to my anxiety and the triggers which come with going out and about. I cannot go into a busy supermarket like I once did and any busy place brings on anxiety and panic attacks. I am sat here now knowing I have to go out later but I am nervous because of any triggers this may bring. However if I don’t go out every now and again I will be trapped inside. I have nightmares most nights and flashbacks on a regular basis.
So what was my operational role? I was a paramedic working as part of the Medical Emergency Response Team picking up the wounded from point of injury so you can imagine the trauma faced on a daily basis. AS well as picking up the wounded we were under fire quite frequently. This I live with post tour and it isn’t a nice place to be……does this make me a wounded warrior or just someone who picked up the wounded warrior’s?….