resources: adjusting to civilian life

June 2017

This report from Veterans For Peace UK details how the Army's training process has a forceful impact on attitudes, health, and behaviour even before recruits are sent to war. The findings show that military training and culture combine with pre-existing issues (such as a childhood history of anti-social behaviour) to increase the risk of violence and alcohol misuse. Traumatic war experiences further exacerbate the problem.

The report explains that the main purpose of army training is to mould young civilians as soldiers who will follow orders by reflex and kill on demand. It demands unquestioning obedience, stimulates aggression and antagonism, overpowers a healthy person’s inhibition to killing, and dehumanises the opponent in the recruit’s imagination. Recruits are taught that stressful situations are overcome through dominance.

The First Ambush? Effects of army training and employment (70pp) draws on veterans’ testimony and around 200 studies, mainly from the UK and US, to explore the effects of army employment on recruits, particularly during initial training.

 

January 2017

Army adverts don't tell you what being a soldier is really like.

At 17, Wayne Sharrocks joined the infantry. His training made him obey the army completely, until it had control of how he thought and what he did. He says that by the end of his training he could have killed another person right in front of him 'at the flick of a switch' with ‘an insane amount of aggression’. He now thinks army training is 'massively damaging' to the mind of a young person.

After he turned 18 Wayne was sent to Afghanistan. There he saw a friend’s legs ripped off and another friend killed. He was injured in the face. Nothing in his training could protect him or his friends.

He couldn't just ‘switch off’ his army training after he left, he says, which caused him all sorts of problems.

Now Wayne thinks that the army shouldn’t be recruiting 16 and 17 year-olds. While it still does, he believes it's better to wait until you’re 18 before deciding whether to join up.

Find out about Wayne's time in the army in these 3-minute videos:

28 October 2013

This report from ForcesWatch, shows that young soldiers recruited from disadvantaged backgrounds are substantially more likely than other troops to return from war experiencing problems with their mental health. It calls for the policy of recruiting from age 16 to be reviewed so that the greatest burden of risk is not left to the youngest, most vulnerable recruits to shoulder.

Download the full report (PDF 1294kb)

Download the Executive Summary (PDF 268kb)

15 March 2013

Men who have served in the UK Armed Forces are more likely to commit a violent offence during their lifetime than their civilian counterparts, according to new research by King's Centre for Military Health Research at King's College London.

Veterans in Prison was founded by two members of the prison service and runds in an independent and voluntary capacity. It's core aim is to reduce re-offending and in turn the number of victims, by rehabilitating the veterans who are currently in the Criminal Justice System. The website has research and information and links to service providers.

Research from Homeless Links's Survey of Needs and Provison suggests that while levels of homelessness among ex-service personnel is not high, it is widespread. Approximately half the day centres in England reported that they work with some ex-service personnel, however second stage accommodation reported much lower rates. This suggests that ex-service personnel do face a high risk of falling into patterns of rough sleeping, albeit for fairly short periods.

Research by the Centre for Housing Policy at York University in 2008 found that an estimated six per cent of London’s non-statutory homeless population had served in the Armed Forces. Although this represented a substantial drop from the proportion (approximately one quarter) reported in the mid-1990s, it showed that a higher proportion of ex-service personnel have alcohol, physical and/or mental health problems compared to the rest of the rough sleeping population.

2010

New research plays down claims of an epidemic of mental illness among soldiers who've served in Afghanistan. But do the official figures tell the full story? The BBC investigates and speaks to veterans who warn of a huge hidden problem and a culture that still pressurises soldiers to get on with the job rather than seek help.

Research from the UK and US about suicide and self-harm among those in the military and ex-military.

"The risk of suicide in men aged 24 y and younger who had left the Armed Forces was approximately two to three times higher than the risk for the same age groups in the general and serving populations"

"More U.S. military personnel have died by suicide since the war in Afghanistan began than have died fighting there."

In 2011, the Howard League for Penal Reform published the final report of the independent inquiry into former armed service personnel in prison.

From the report:

"At the present time the most accurate figure would seem to be the product of a joint quantitative study carried out by the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Justice. This asserts that approximately 2,820, or some 3.5 per cent of all those currently in custody in England and Wales, had served in the Forces.

"The study estimated that 77 per cent of ex-servicemen in prison served in the Army, 15 per cent in the Royal Navy and 8 per cent in the Royal Air Force. Furthermore, it estimated that 51 per cent of ex-servicemen in prison are over the age of 45 years and 29 per cent are over the age of 55, which compares to 9 per cent of the general prison population being aged 50 years or over. These statistics suggest that many ex-servicemen in prison have offended a considerable time after their date of discharge.

"Whatever the exact figures for ex-servicemen in prison, it is important to stress that all estimates indicate that ex-servicemen constitute a significant subset."

From the press release:

“While the numbers of ex-servicemen in prison appear stable, evidence from statistical surveys in both England and Wales and the United States show that ex-servicemen are more likely to be serving sentences for violent and sexual offences than the general prison population."