Returning to life after war

Laura Davis

Amusement Arcade 300x200 Returning to life after warEvery year, thousands of servicemen and women are incarcerated in British prisons when they return from the military and attempt to return to civilian life. Is this because their violent tendencies make them inclined to join the army? Or is the main problem that they are let down when they try and re-adjust to society?

Director Brian Welsh makes a significant point about soldiers returning from war having been exposed to levels of violence that most of us are unlikely to ever encounter. In his new film, ‘In Our Name’, we see the protagonist Suzy return from Iraq and struggle to return to everyday life.

His extensive research into the sensitive topic meant he heard some harrowing tales of life in combat:

“We did a lot of work with the charity Combat Stress who were really helpful. A lot of the stories had a running theme of children, and one case that struck me in particular was a soldier who had had some contact with a young girl as she’d dropped a ball and he’d handed it to her – making eye contact. He didn’t think anything of it, but when they came back through that town he saw the carnage and as he turned over a woman’s body the girl was underneath it. You can’t suppress that sort of memory. When his own daughter got to a similar age, it evoked this memory.”

Joanne Froggatt, who plays Suzy in the film, also spoke to former soldiers and counsellors that talk to those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after their ordeals:

“One guy I spoke to said ‘You sort of learn how you used to behave, with your children and your life and your loved ones, but you can’t feel the emotions. I haven’t properly laughed since I’ve been back.’” Froggatt also described how “Another guy who was being treated said ‘I risked my life for Queen and country but I didn’t sign up for this.’ Their stories made it really personal.”

Both would see a need for mandatory counselling after life in combat, as there is a slight stigma attached for those who choose optional counselling.

Froggatt asked why there wasn’t better psychological testing before people sign up to the army, and one counsellor said:

“Well, no-one would be in the army. We’re not programmed to do these things on a daily basis. Not everybody who comes back will suffer from PTSD but of course it will happen to some.”

Welsh also stated:

“They put their lives in dangers and it can affect them mentally, so they’re not fully accountable for their actions.”

‘In Our Name’ addresses the issue of PTSD sensitively, with hauntingly realistic portrayals of the effects war can have on the soldiers. Of course innocent victims get caught in the crossfire, but whether you’re for or against any form of war, the film certainly helps us to spare a thought for those who are neither mentally prepared for the ordeal, nor offered the kind of support that is critical to enable them to return to everyday life.

In Our Name is released in cinemas on 10 December. With the launch of Curzon On Demand, you can also watch the film from home or on the move – on the same day it’s released.

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