Recent research published in The Lancet medical journal has alarmingly found that men with combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan were 53% more likely to commit violent offences than fellow soldiers in non-combat roles. Of British soldiers under 30 with combat experience, 20.6% have a conviction for violent offences compared with only 6.7% of civilian men. The study showed that alcohol abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder were also linked to violence.
It is clear that soldiers returning from deployment need support to tackle the problems that can follow active combat. The study showed soldiers with multiple experiences of combat had a 70%-80% greater risk of committing acts of violence.
The Ministry of Defence stated it was dedicated to improving services and last year engaged in the ‘Don’t Bottle It Up’ campaign designed to fight the stigma surrounding mental health problems in the Armed Forces and encourage more soldiers to come forward for help. It is important that the Ministry of Defence continues its efforts to remove the stigma surrounding mental health, especially post-traumatic stress disorder.
With on going and increasing defence cuts, it’s hoped those that leave service are not forgotten and that the much needed resources and support will be there for members of the Armed Forces who are at greater risk of committing violent offences and focus on helping service personnel re-integrate into civilian life following deployment.