We at Grey Man’s Land support our soldiers and we certainly support the fight against PTSD. Organisations such as Help for Heroes and Talking 2 Minds rightfully do everything they can to help serving and ex-soldiers battle Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and a more worthy undertaking is hard to imagine.
In our haste to honour and help soldiers, however, we often forget the innocent victims of war, the civilians who are killed, maimed, and made to suffer in ways far worse than what most battle-hardened soldiers ever have to endure.
Good soldiers, both British and American, inadvertently kill or cripple civilians on a regular basis — it’s war, and collateral damage is a part of it. I’m not blaming the soldiers, but at the same time I have enough human decency to consider the lives of the civilians equally worthy and the PTSD of the survivors just as real.
So, this Christmas season, I implore our readers to look beyond the military charities we regularly mention here and give a little to help the truly innocent victims.
The International Red Cross does so much to alleviate the suffering of civilians in war zones, and as McNab can attest, they help soldiers, too. Please continue supporting our troops and the organisations that help them out, but let’s give a hand to the often-forgotten civilians as well.
I’m tempted to say, ‘serves them fucking right,’ but an objective analysis demands we understand that these are psychologically-wounded men and women who, for better or worse, followed what were presented as lawful orders. And they’re back home now, part of our society, so like them or not we’re all better served by treating these people and making sure it doesn’t happen again.
As posted on alternet.org:
The Department of Veterans Affairs has finally recognized that it’s not just events during combat that can cause Post-traumatic stress disorder, but any number of the horrors of war. It is a much-needed change that brings the VA up-to-date not just with the current medical research, but with the nature of modern warfare, in which violence extends far beyond the combat zone. To qualify for PTSD related benefits soldiers no longer have to prove that they went through a specific combat event. The fear “related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity” is enough.
But there is another cause of trauma that should be added to that list: the witnessing or participation in detainee abuse. Even though unrelated to combat, the torture and abuse that happened at prisons like Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are a form of “hostile military activity,” which we particularly rely upon in the War on Terror…
And please, if you have anything to give, help out organisations that are working hard to treat PTSD and to help these deeply-wounded soldiers heal:
Talking 2 Minds — Our favourite charity here at GML, run by people who understand PTSD in a way one who hasn’t experienced it simply cannot.
Help for Heroes — Another great organisation that helps wounded soldiers every day in every way possible. Andy McNab is a big Help for Heroes supporter, and you should be, too.
The Millennium Hotel group have kindly offered to host our very first charity dinner for us at The Millennium Knightsbridge Hotel on Thursday 20 May to help us raise funds. We are looking to raise money to help more veterans through our therapeutic treatment and get them back to living a normal life free from all the symptoms of PTSD. So far we have treated over 200 veterans and are getting fantastic results with the guys feeling like they can get back into civilian life and enjoy themselves once again.
The dinner will have some great food, a night of entertaining cabaret as well as a fab raffle with all sorts of prizes including an abseiling opportunity.
I am going with a group of Talking2Minds people who will all be available to tell you all about the charity and what great results we are achieving so far and if anyone is interested in getting involved in helping this would be a great way to start.
Fiona Gordon Smart
Despite being quite busy in Hollywood, Andy McNab was kind enough to take what time he could out of his schedule to chat with greymansland.com about Exit Wound, Dropzone, and of course the rumoured ‘Echelon’ movie deal. Transcript below:
GML: Many critics and fans have called Exit Wound the best Nick Stone novel yet. We know that when writing fiction, you are often inspired by real events. Can you tell us more about the background behind Exit Wound’s story-line?
Andy McNab: Great news to hear that Exit Wound is so well liked. The whole idea was based around a story that came out of ‘rumour control’. The story was that Saddam had these two huge golden doors made for his palace in Basra and that they never got delivered from Dubai because of the war. I first heard this story when I was at Basra Palace in 2007. I was visiting 2 Rifles who were the last infantry battalion to stay for the whole six-month tour in the city. The battalion was full of rumours about hidden gold within the palace compound. There were more holes in the ground from the lads digging than there was from the rocket and mortar attacks. After that trip it was really playing with the idea using a people that have spent years talking about how best to rob banks and more importantly how to get away with it. Julian, Red Ken and Dex are based on mates from the regiment that I’ve known for over 20 years. They are just as smooth, stupid and serious as they are in the book.
GML: What places did you visit to research Exit Wound? Usually these places don’t seem to be the regular tourist areas; any interesting anecdotes from your latest trips to the dodgier side of town?
Andy McNab: I was very lucky with Exit Wound as they weren’t too many recces to carry out. I know Dubai quite a while and have spent some time in Russia. In fact I was due to go last summer with my daughter who has become quite friendly with a Russian friend of mine. He called me from Moscow three days before we were due to leave to say he had some bad news. I thought it was about his wife who was due to have a baby within the next month. However he was phoning from his hospital bed after being shot in a Moscow hotel. He was more concerned about my daughter meeting up with his as they were really looking forward to it. Our parting words were ‘maybe next year.’
GML: You are a big supporter of one of our favourite charities, Talking2Minds. What attracted you to Talking2Minds? Do you feel, with the additional publicity of late, things are starting to change when it comes to PTSD?
Andy McNab: I met the lads from Talking2Minds at a PTSD conference where I was giving the opening address. I think the way they are tackling the problem is fantastic and they are getting some great results. Things are starting to change both in the perception the public has about soldiers with PTSD, and the way we are dealing with the problem . I am helping out on a project that is being run by the head of army psychiatry and hopefully the project should be out in the public domain early next year. One thing that is clearly come out this project so far is that the vast majority of soldiers, sailors and airmen who leave the armed services do very well back in the real world. That’s good for two reasons and the main one is that we can concentrate on the minority of people who really need help.
GML: What’s the status for ‘Echelon’, the Nick Stone movie based on Firewall, these days?
Andy McNab: All looking good. What I have learnt during this process is that on average film costing $70m takes about 11 years to get up and running. We’re at the stage now where contracts are signed but there are more Chiefs than Indians running around saying what they want done. However, the script is now finished and so…
GML: Dropzone: Bk.1, your new novel for the youth market, was just released. Your ‘Boy Soldier‘ youth series was written with a co-writer (Robert Rigby). Why no co-writer this time, and what differences might we see with you as the only writer?
Andy McNab: I thought I would just give it a go. Whilst collaborating on the Boy Ssoldier series it became very evident to me that there is no difference between writing adult and teenage fiction. Of course, there are restrictions on profanity, and the fact that a teenager cannot actually kill anybody. But apart from that, there is nothing different, a story is a story. I’m hoping that the style Drop Zone is written in works that adult readers as well.
GML: Finally, Andy, what’s the best joke you ever heard in your entire military career?
Andy McNab: Nope, not gonna tell you!
GML: Thank you very much indeed for your time and best wishes from all of your fans here at greymansland.com
It’s always an honour, a pleasure, and a laugh to hear from Andy. Read more Andy McNab Interviews.
With daredevil Felix Baumgartner planning to skydive from the very edge of space at 120,000 feet later this year, it’s a good time to take a moment to remember a man who dreamed the same dream, Charles “Nish” Bruce.
As many of you know, Nish served with Andy McNab in B Squadron 22 SAS, specifically Air Troop, where he excelled at sky-diving. Nish long dreamed of breaking the free-fall altitude record, and if not for his untimely death (caused in large part by the effects of PTSD) he would have undoubtedly achieved it, as he achieved so many other things in life.
Even those of us who never knew Nish are still touched by his spirit, his daring, and his brave, though ultimately losing, struggle with mental illness. For more on Charles “Nish” Bruce, check out Andy McNab’s Seven Troop, and be sure to read Nish’s autobiography (written under a pseudonym), Freefall.
If there had been more awareness of — and treatment options for — PTSD, Nish Bruce might be alive today. Click for more information on PTSD and how you can help.