Lifestyle

Horrors of combat linger for returned Aussie soldier

Despite years of training for war, it still doesn't entirely prepare soldiers to watch their mates die and watch innocent people get killed.
Despite years of training for war, it still doesn't entirely prepare soldiers to watch their mates die and watch innocent people get killed. Australian Defence Force

WE SEE them as heroes; the bravest of them all.

The ones who fight for our country and bear witness to the most horrendous acts imaginable.

But sometimes, the things our soldiers see and do while fighting on the frontline are so horrific, even they need a helping hand when it comes to getting back to civilian life.

For one Warwick mother, watching her 21-year-old son return from Afghanistan, scarred from the events that were so explicitly played out in front of him, was heartbreaking.

"Physically he's fine, but it's the mental issues. I don't think anyone, except those who have done it, understands the things he saw and had to do," she said.

When he returned home in early December, she said she could tell her son wasn't the same as the boy who left her for Afghanistan six months prior.

"It's like that old saying, they leave for the army as a boy and return a man and that's exactly what has happened," she said.

"He's matured so much, but inside I can see he is still a kid and still just wants to be a 21-year-old."

She said the things her son saw while over there haunted his memory every day.

"He is a bit distant and is not coping with what he calls 'civilian life' - still talking in army terms," she said.

When soldiers return home from warfare, they are urged to take a week with a psychologist to de-brief and learn to cope with their emotions.

"My son said a lot of the boys didn't do it because they thought 'that psychologist on the other side of the desk does not know how I feel, he doesn't know what I have seen and he hasn't heard or been through what I have' and so they didn't go," she said.

"And that makes them angry that there is someone sitting there saying 'I know how you feel' when they don't."

While at war, soldiers form a brotherhood like no other and this Warwick mum said she knew that was getting her son through the tough times.

"The camaraderie between these boys is like an extended family but they can relate even more so than family because they have been through a lot more," she said.

"They're in contact almost every half hour and if one is feeling down they don't hesitate to call.

"They come from everywhere.

"They made a pact: 'we'll stick together no matter what time of day, or night, we don't care, if you need us you just call' so they can all get through this together."

She said despite two years of training for war, it still didn't entirely prepare the soldiers to watch their mates die and watch innocent people get killed.

"I don't think there is any way they (the government) could help more," she said.

"(My son) has explained to me that they have no idea what they're going into and he said when they get over there all of a sudden all their training kicks in and you've just got to do what you have to do to save your mates.

"He tells us stories of what happened and sometimes I have to say 'No, that's enough' because it's so horrific.

"Then he'll start showing me photos of the country and saying how beautiful the places were, then he'll switch back to the nasty stuff."

The mother said her son had already put his hand up to go back over the Afghanistan because his "mates are still over there".

This is just one version of a mother's heartache as she watches her son overcome the terrors of war.

"I don't think there is any way they (the government) could help more."

Do you think soldiers returning from war should have mandatory counselling or therapy?

This poll ended on 30 April 2013.

Yes. - 70%

No, it should be their choice. - 29%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Topics:  afghanistan, australian army, mental health, trauma, war



Mooball plans on the moo-ve

BIG PLANS: The village of Mooball from above.

Big plans for he quaint village of Mooball have the green light

Tweed United gunning for a top-four, finals’ finish

Tweed United captain and top goal scorer Michael Kolovos and his side are hell-bent on a top-four finish in season 2016.

"Our Destiny is in our own hands."

Charges against accused Lone Wolf bikie dismissed

Mark Clinton Atta-Singh leaving Tweed Heads Local Court, cleared of all charges.

Charges against accused Lone Wolf bikie dismissed

Latest deals and offers

Superheroes of the big screen enjoy sounds of Splendour

CHRIS Hemsworth and his Avengers mates drop by Byron festival.

Dynamic pics from Splendour Day 1

The Strokes perform at Splendour in the Grass 2016. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

Check out the latest pictures from Splendour in the Grass.

Bindi Irwin: 18 magic photos to mark her 18th birthday

Bindi Irwin with a python.

Photos: Bindi Irwin from babyhood to 18

Aussie director makes his mark on new Roots mini-series

Malachi Kirby as Kunta Kinte in a scene from the TV series Roots.

BRUCE Beresford behind final episode of remake of iconic series.

The Avalanches pull plug on live broadcast of Splendour set

The Avalanches are an Australian electronic music group.

RADIO listeners won't be able to tune in to the band's show tonight.

Who's got Richie's heart all aflutter?

Richie Strahan stars in season four of The Bachelor.

THE Bachelor has found his dream woman second time around.

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

Massive residential 9-storey high-rise hit by delays

An artist’s impression of the eight-storey-high apartment complex that Bernoth Holdings wants to build in South Toowoomba, next to the City Golf Club.

Developer struggles to get approved high-rise development started