Blood, Sweat, Courage… and what lies beneath

A Military Man's Inner Battle

On Defence Day as Pakistan celebrated the courage shown by its valiant Pakistani soldiers in the 1965 war on the 6th of September and brought home victory against India.

We often tend to overlook the battles they face alone; within themselves everyday.

One famous quote “I regret I have only one life to give for my country” shows just an iota of the immense love they hold for their country.

They put up a front and hide their emotions from the world; dealing with the hardships of war.

The bitter reality is that “in comparison with multinational and US forces, Pakistan’s military has the highest number of casualties in the war on terror”, according to Wikipedia.

Whereas other countries now recognise PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), Pakistan lags far behind in establishing a connection. These soldiers often have very close relations and friendships in order to stay strong through the whole experience; they share a special bond.

When these bonds are violently broken on the battlefield, when loved ones are lost and friendships stolen, the impact is significant and can be seen in ex-servicemen around the world.

Its estimated that up to 14 percent of service members experience depression especially after deployment, not knowing whether they will return to their families.

Many soldiers even miss out on the most memorable moments of their life because of this, such as seeing the birth of their children, siblings weddings or other cherishable moments with family et cetera.

However, this statistic is not completely accurate. It may be even higher because many soldiers don’t seek medical help, according to Healthline.

In addition, many people may not be aware that about 19 percent of soldiers suffer traumatic brain injuries during combat which can damage the brain and trigger depressive symptoms.

However, depression is not the only consequence. The symptoms of PTSD are wide ranging. Soldiers experience flashbacks of the horrors seen, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Many have reported uncontrollable shaking, violent episodes and a failed attachment with family and friends upon return.

It must be appreciated that the battlefront is a dark hole in which men sacrifice their life or take lives:

“One does not return completely unscathed”

It is also important to remember that it is not only the soldiers who experience such a condition but also their families who constantly worry for their well-being and also may go through separation anxiety.

These issues then go on to also affect physical functions such as ones appetite and sleep which are very important in a soldier’s life for good mental health.

The reason why so many soldiers suffer in silence is the “macho” culture associated with being firstly, a man and secondly being an army officer.

They are seen as invincible and that nothing can affect them as opposed to flesh and blood humans who have an extraordinary job.

The stigma has to be removed that for soldiers to experience such sadness, it does not make them any less of a man or patriot.

A webpage named “Real Warriors” has been launched so there is more awareness about this issue and I only hope that Pakistan follows suit.

Our beloved country’s soldiers fight for our protection everyday and night, now its our turn to take care of them.