A soldiers Story (fictional)

250px-Basra_locationYou’re on your last patrol before your unit returns home after a 9month stint in Iraq.  You’re on point covering for your squad as they return to the Warrior after inspecting a suspected arms dump on the outskirts of Basra.

Spirits are high because tonight’s scran in the mess tent will be the last meal before you get home to your mum’s Sunday roast.  In 8 hours, you’ll be on the plane home in to the arms of the family you’ve been away from for so long. 


Your squad mates begin shouting, they are pointing towards 3 youths running out of a nearby building.  You are almost at the Warrior when there is an almighty ‘whoosh’, followed by a loud explosion.


When you open your eyes, you find yourself 20ft away from the Warrior.  You can’t focus on anything, you can’t hear anything. The dust is settling and you begin to see your surroundings. You try to clear the dust from your eyes, but there is something wrong. You look down towards your hand and there’s nothing there. In a panic, you try to stand, but you fall over.  The bottom of your left leg is missing. In pain you slump down to the ground as the rest of your unit reaches you.

The next time you wake, you find yourself in the Military Hospital in Basra.  The medics have had to amputate your right arm from below the elbow, you’ve lost the left leg below the knee, and you are blind in your right eye.
After a week or so, you are transferred to the facility at Headley Court.

The above could have happened to any number of our serving personnel in Basra or in fact any of the current overseas theatre of operations.  But in this case, it’s a fictional story. But there have been many of our service personnel over the years who have and are still going through similar experiences.

But the hardship doesn’t end there. Once the injured personnel come back to the UK, there is yet more pain to endure, but this time by the families of the victims themselves. 
Often families have to travel hundreds of miles to visit their loved ones.  Living in a hotel or bed and breakfast is fine for a brief business trip or a short holiday, but when the family themselves are having to deal with the emotions involved with supporting an injured loved one, it creates unwanted stress.

the fisher house In the US an organization known as “The Fisher House” exists which quotes the following on their web site.

Supporting America’s military in their time of need, we provide “a home away from home” that enables family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful time — during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury

Headley Court and the SSAFA

RAF Headley Court near Epsom in Headley, Surrey, England deals with with UK Military Forces personnel with physical disabilities obtained during service, and also deals with patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

With a dedicated staff of around 200, the care it provides is essential to the recovery of the personnel.  In 2005, Major David Bradley of the Princess of Wales‘s Royal Regiment was given a five per cent chance of survival as a result of injuries received whilst on duty in Iraq during 2004. Headley Court played a vital part in ensuring he had the best chance of recovery.

Having family around you during recovery is an important factor (and I know this from personal experience). Not only do families have to deal with looking at the some times horrific injuries to their loved ones, many patients will often reject the attention of their families, pushing them away as a result of their injuries, which causes further stress. 

The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) exists in the UK to help out where ever it can.

ssafa The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) Forces Help is the leading national charity committed to helping and supporting those who serve in our Armed Forces, those who used to serve, and the families of both.  We provide a reliable, caring and trusted service to more than 50,000 people each year.

36 Grays Lane

 The SSAFA were hoping to provide a home away from home for the family members visiting loved ones being treated at Headley Court, but met with some unexpected resistance from local residents.

It appears that a bunch of NIMBY’s have been coming up with all sorts of reasons why 36 Grays Lane should not be used by SSAFA.  To see some of their reasons, visit the 36grayslane web site.

36grayslane has been set up to highlight the actions of the Management Company representing the local residents and to gain support for the SSAFA campaign.
If ever there was a perfect example of the phrase NIMBY, they are it.

It as if they don’t want their neighborhood spoiled by having “the lower class” families of our service personal living in their area.
None of their concerns expressed (detailed at this page at 36grayslane have any merit what so ever.

Every single resident who has signed up in protest to the SSAFA proposal should be given a guided tour of Headley Court and spend time with the visiting families.

Each of the residents who signed up, should be ashamed of their selfishness and total disrespect for the families of our service men and women who have given more than most to protect our beliefs and interests.

The people at 36grayslane have a guestbook that you can sign to show your support.

There is also a petition set up on the 10 Downing Street E-Petition site.

The rest of the UK needs to show those residents of Grays Lane who are objecting just how pathetic their actions are.

I wouldn’t mind if they founded their objections on anything reasonable, but they are not. Laughable at best.
If it were a travelers camp, nightclub, sex shop or something similar to those, I could see their argument. But the truth of the matter is that the house run by SSAFA would hardly be noticeable. Their argument shows snobbery and contempt beyond belief.