by ANDREW BALCOMBE
According to the Danish newspaper Politiken, 11 Danish soldiers from Charlie Company, The Hussar Regiment, are recovering from their injuries at the Camp Bastion field hospital in Helmand province.
The soldiers were wounded during a Taliban attack on Bridzar patrol base, northeast of Gereshk, in advance of a sandstorm. No other details were provided, except that the wounded were evacuated by helicopter, along with two interpreters who were also wounded, after the sandstorm ended.
The news clearly shows Danish troops are suffering physically from their duties in Helmand. Mentally, the combat duties are also taking a heavy toll. In the last 12 months, nine young veterans, all in their 20s, have tried to kill themselves. The suicide attempts raise questions in Denmark over the military’s ability to help troops with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Captain Marco Kroon of the Korps Commandotroepen is The Netherlands’ most decorated soldier in active service. Kroon served in Bosnia, Cambodia, Iraq and Afghanistan both with regular units and Special Forces. He said that young regular soldiers are more likely to get PTSD than older soldiers and those who serve in the Special Forces.
“In the Commandos, we take at least a year to prepare for war,” Kroon said. “In the regular army, troops only train for roughly six weeks before they are sent to the units. Mentally, I think they are less strong. I also think, the younger you are, the more difficult it is to cope with traumatic situations.
That’s what I experienced during my career. I used to talk about the things that happened during a mission a lot less than when I was older. When I was young, I thought it was not tough to say, “I’m pretty scared,” or, “I was afraid.” Now I am older, I find it easier to be open and to say, “I was stressed,” or, “I was afraid.”