What’s left of War? 

Over the years, I have had many friends that have chosen to join the Military, and at one point seriously considered signing up as a Royal Marine myself. I have watched some of these friends return from various war zones in the Middle East, and have seen first hand the effect that war has had on them.

“I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only one who has seen its brutality, its stupity.”


Post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by extremely stressful, frightening or distressing events. It can develop in some people immediately after an event, and for others it can take months or even years to notice symptoms. It is estimated that roughly 1 in 3 people who have a traumatic experience suffer from (PTSD), although it is not clear why some people develop the condition and others don’t.

Year by year, troops are coming home with the emotional baggage of being at war, a heavy and complicated burden that very few can relate to or fully understand.

Prior to writing this article I had a conversation with a friend that had been stationed in Afghanistan numerous times, and is now left intent on leaving the armed forces. It was apparent to me that weather he knew it or not. Both him and members of his regiment had been affected by their experiences.

“I went to the chippy, got back in my car and opened the bag of chips to eat a few, then a car backfired on the street. I shit my self and dropped the chips all over the place, then went proper weird an nearly started crying.”

He explained to me how little insignificant things had sparked dramatic reactions and irrational behavior. Painting a haunting picture in great detail. Showing not the fallen soldiers we commemorate, but the surviving casualties of war, missed out as almost insignificant, due to their perfect physical condition, but living on, to face, and re-live, a war they were once in, for a lifetime.

The most worrying thing, was that there seems to be a stigma attached to people who choose to talk about the traumatic experiences a solider goes through, especially amongst younger people, as if they were weak or soft. This could be why many people suffering from (PTSD) don’t receive treatment, or why many people may even refuse to come to terms with the fact they are struggling.

I have seen my friend change, from the fresh faced teen he once was, enjoying basic training and keen to get out in the field. To the person he is now – not ruined by war, but certainly molded by it. Unfortunately, there are many people like him, some suffering from much greater psychological terrors, some of them spending lifetimes dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

It seems apparent to me now that those going to war, not only have to survive their violent surroundings, but also the psychological scars they may come back with.

“If you think of humanity as one large body, then war is like suicide, or at best, self mutilation.


By Ben Thompson.