W.W.1 diaries not written by officers of the upper class, but by ‘ordinary’ soldiers, tell of physical and mental ‘plasters’ being applied to men before they were hastily sent back to the front line to be slaughtered.
UK veterans of W.W.2, who returned home with a grade ‘E’ label of physical or mental health, had to regularly attend Medical Boards, which grilled veterans about the validity of their claims, crudely attempting to save the government money. Roughly speaking, categorisation as ‘A’ signified that the soldier was fit for all duties, and ‘B’ that he was fit for all duties within limits (e.g., that he should not be submitted to great strain and exposure); as ‘C’ that he was fit for home service only; as ‘D’ that he was temporarily unfit for duty; and as ‘E’ that he was totally unfit for duty.
On March 16, 1945, in the British parliament, Sir Robert Tasker remarked: “I also would like to plead for the humanising element to be brought in when dealing with a man who becomes a casualty. I appreciate the difficulty, and recognise that much of the trouble is due to the man who is a “scrounger,” or a “scrimshanker,” who is trying to get something for nothing. Cases are sometimes viewed in that light. The War Office say: “We have to be very particular to see that a man does not get away with something to which he is not entitled”.
The notion of scivers (scrimshankers, a navy slang) was one popular with fancy boy psychiatrists, who sat in their comfortable lounges and composed an article that appeared in The Lancet in January 1941, claiming: ‘hysterical mechanisms have been much more superficial in many of them (soldiers), and in a few have almost reached the level of open malingering; to others even the most cautious psychiatrist might be tempted to apply the term “scrimshanker”. It may be that these men, breaking down at a later stage in the war, and being less obviously unfit for service, feel that they must bolster up their illness with adventitious aid; or rather, perhaps, evade further unpleasant necessity by refusing to consider the possibility of natural recovery … These men have been social misfits all their lives, and their neurosis is the expression of failure to adapt to the Army’.
This attitude perfectly sums up how pen-pushers who have never experienced hardship have the shameless audacity to ‘be very particular’ when judging a benefit claim of those who have. They judge from a distance. The demeaning attitude of the upper class to war veterans was again made clear by James C. Beck M.D., who wrote in 1990: ‘Finally, during the Vietnam era, the United States military lowered standards of induction. The project designed to ‘rehabilitate the poor resulted in 354,000 men who entered the military falling below the normal mental or physical requirements for entrance into the armed services. By lowering entry requirements the armed services dipped further into the nation’s socioeconomic reservoir. It has been shown that veterans from the most unstable family backgrounds have been more likely to incur symptons suggesting PTSD after minimal stress in Vietnam (e.g. low combat exposure or no combat. Although systemic data is unavailable some of these individuals had a criminal background and have undoubtedly contributed to veterans’ postwar crime statistics’.
Many grade ‘E’ ‘social misfits’ faced unemployment and homelessness. The parallels today in both America and the UK are profound. A significant proportion of soldiers from both countries have completed three tours of Afganistan, their physical and mental damage leading to marriage breakdown, increased rates of suicide, and homelessness. There were 9,000 homeless veterans in Los Angeles in 2011, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, who add that 2,520 of these had severe mental health problems. In 1994, Crisis, the UK national charity for single homeless people, published a report suggesting that ‘up to 25% of men and women living rough in our major cities were former service personnel’. A UK local authority housing service offered a war veteran, a triple amputee, a third-floor flat in a block with no lift! When such moronic offers are turned down, they say they have discharged their responsibility!
Veterans also experience high levels of imprisonment. Some recent estimates place the number of ‘social misfit’ veterans in American prisons as high as 200,000. In the UK, the National Offender Management Information System (NOMIS) suggest that as many as 11% (9,500) of prisoners are war veterans. Surely, the fine sounding words of Military Covenants ring hollow when judged against these statistics. There must be an alternative to imprisoning so many war veteran offenders.
There are many academic studies about the ‘neurosis’ now dubbed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a cause of crime by veterans. Some point to the complexity of this issue, with no two soldiers reacting in the same way to witnessing atrocity. That people have different coping skills built up over their lifetime is obvious; what is more relevant is that most soldiers have qualities of compassion and intelligence, that is, they are human beings, not low life from the bottom of the nation’s socioeconomic reservoir, and it is these qualities that are overthrown by atrocity, and no amount of coping skills will fully mitigate this. In W.W.1, diary evidence tells of surrendering soldiers being bayonetted to death on the order of officers who barked the command “Cut them all down!”, with such officers being later bayonetted by their own men, who had recoiled, as human beings, from such murderous acts.
Such ‘deviance’ has always been anathema to the military. America and its client states put in military prison any ‘social misfit’ who tells the media that the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan were illigitimate. No security has been breached.The crime is to deviate from government propaganda. Dossiers are compiled on soldiers who use social media to criticise war aims. Fear is instilled in barracks by posters of soldiers in chains. Common advice in the treatment of PTSD is early diagnosis, yet, how can someone who is suffering, as a human being, from witnessing the ‘collateral damage’ of drone strikes, breach their non-disclosure agreement by telling doctors of seeing bombed-to-bits children?
War crimes are draped in the flag, and those exposing them branded unpatriotic – that is, they are ‘social misfits’ who do not serve the interests of the ruling elite, who view the deaths of working class soldiers as a cheap price to pay for Iraq’s oil reserves, and the obscenely profitable ‘reconstruction’ contracts given to their corporate paymasters.
What does it take today to be a grade ‘E’ veteran? A former British marine who had a leg blown off in Afghanistan had his benefits stopped because the Department for Work and Pensions had ‘surmised he could walk 200 metres pain-free’, and ‘a prosthetic leg is just as good as having your own leg’. Oh, really! Praise the Lord! An American veteran with severe brain injury, and without his right arm, was declared healthy and employable. Again, praise the Lord! Politicians set the paramiters of tests, which are premised on the belief that many war veterans are scrimshankers – ‘social misfits’ trying to get something for nothing.
In both America and its British colony, veterans have to fill out ridiculously long forms to claim benefits, designed to deter applicants. The American Veterans Administration has budgetary targets, explaining why many claims submitted are refused, or sent back because of trivial mistakes. This tactic is mimicked in Britain, where, in 2013, those who took part in the air offensive of World War II. were offered a cheap clasp, rather than a medal, to commemorate their bravery. A famous film was made about the ‘Dambusters’, portraying them as heroes, yet such heroes were demeaned by a British parliament which offered them tinsel, yet whose members spent £275,221 buying more than 25,000 bottles of champagne since the coalition government took over in May 2010. Guy Fawkes was the only person who entered the British parliament with good intent.
Why should veterans rely on charity? In the UK, the Help for Heroes (H4H) charity, founded by (surprise, surprise) close friends of the wife of the then Chief of the General Staff, Lord Dannatt, seems to get preferential treatment from the Ministry of Defense (MoD), understandably so given that it uses much of its donations to build the rehabilitation facilities the government should be providing. H4H only assist active or recently active soldiers. Many who contribute to H4H are not aware of its restricted remit. In America, criticism of the Wounded Warrior Project is that it so obscenely rewards its executives, and those of its distribution organizations, that only 10% of funds reach veterans. There are also disturbing reports that some American facilities for injured veterans are vermin infested hovels.
Politicians in America and its British colony take advantage of photo opportunities in war zones, they sing the same hymn of praise “to those who have given and sacrificed so much, that we might enjoy our freedom”, which, translated, means their freedom to plunder. The political class of psychopath talk of soldier’s deaths in abstract terms. The British Military Covenant of 2000 stated: ‘Soldiers will be called upon to make personal sacrifices – including the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ in the service of the Nation’, as if the death of a soldier is a surreal event, an ‘ultimate sacrifice’, not death! – ‘this is the end, beautiful friend’ – finito! They invoke again the old and despicable lie, ‘dulce et decorum est pro patria mori’ (it is a honour to die for your country), without making clear whose country they mean, or that their country will treat soldiers like human detritus after discharge. Their adverts trawl working class minds, offering three meals a day, accomodation, and training. Most do not join to ‘serve’ or to ‘defend their country’.
As Tomas Young, a paralyzed American war veteran wrote: ‘Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage’.
I would add the name of Tony Blair, the once Prime Minister of the British Colony of America, to this class of political war criminal, a view supported by 23% of the British public in 2010. Making him Middle-East Envoy is like making a high-ranking Nazi the envoy for Europe after World War II.
They divide so as to rule. Those working against those not. The healthy against the sick. The young against the old. Black versus white.
American and British war veterans unite! Unite with the downtrodden! March under a united flag of freedom!
lenin nightingale 2014