Wednesday, 23 April 2008

The real cost of War

If you want something to cry God for Harry, England and Saint George about, yesterday I caught and found myself drawn into one of the most perceptive and compassionate pieces of telly I’ve ever seen — a BBC documentary by Ken Hames, Ex-Forces and Homeless. The BBC has drawn to public atention how many people leave the services and go to pieces, ending up on the streets. The Oswald Stoll foundation, among others, try and put people affected in touch with each other and resources to rebuild their lives. It’s a problem Catherine’s noticed in her work in the West London Day Centre.

As a former major in the SAS with 27 years’ service, Ken Hames managed to tell the stories of three people from the inside, with moving tenderness and understanding. This wasn’t a simple sob story, thought there’s plenty sad about people who have been reduced from peaks of fighting fitness to life on the streets.

In the end, it came down to Post Traumatic Stress, and the degree to which people, being who they are, manage to confront their own demons. There’s a thin line line between painful recovery and falling off the edge. I was an army baby. Some of the programme stirred up some of the stuff in the sludge at the bottom of my life. Considering the human fallout of Bush/Blair loonery in Iraq, and bearing in mind Hillary’s rather disturbing electioneering offer yesterday to Obliterate Iran, this isn’t a problem that’s going to go away.

The programme’s well worth 40 minutes on the iplayer here.

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