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Friday, 8 July 2011

Reasons to Smile- Pride For Our Armed Forces

As British Armed Forces Day, (June 25th for future reference), was so sadly overlooked the other week in many corners of this our fair & supposedly patriotic Isle; I feel that today’s Reason to Smile should reflect & project the gratitude & pride that I deeply feel for our amazing British Military.
Although more often than not, my daily Reasons to Smile posts have a pretty tenuous link to the subject of disability, (which is actually partly the point)- with an alarming number of service personnel returning home from active service with life changing injuries each year, it’s fair to say, that on top of facing often harrowing scenes whilst serving on operations; a growing number of our British Military, (both serving & ex-serving), are now facing similar hurdles to many of us civvies that are learning to live with disability too.
Albeit extremely clear in many instances that these men & women’s journeys to get them to the point of acceptance of their new lives are very different indeed to many of us reading this blog- it's important to highlight that ALL of our paths to this stage in our rehabilitation & realisation, are different from one another in every case.
The above is one of the reasons that I vehemently believe that broad assumptions & categorisations should never be made about us; as if nothing else, we are still individuals with extremely individual circumstances that lead us to this one shared point in our lives.
For those of you who aren’t yet aware, I am a military wife & an extremely proud one at that.
When I met my husband six years ago, I had never really been blessed with knowing many people in our wonderful British Military; however, with my boyfriend, (now husband), a serving member of the RAF of fourteen years, I was swiftly & warmly welcomed into this unique & wonderful world with open arms.

The world of the extended military family is an extremely close & supportive one. This was regularly demonstrated to me in an official capacity by senior officers supporting us when Garry had to rearrange work for unforeseen hospital admissions & by SSAFA- (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen & Families Association), providing us with volunteers to help with dog walking & getting to regular medical appointments
In an unofficial capacity is crucially when this family unit would come into their own- whenever the chips were down, or Garry was away in Afghanistan, the whole wonderful RAF Lyneham community would rally around like no other group of people I’ve ever met, providing comfort, compassion & copious cups of tea: (& maybe just the odd glass of vino or two too as well)!
Blessed with friends as serving members, (& as serving wives), in the other forces also, I am pleased to confirm that this spirit is not confined to RAF Lyneham & the Air Force alone.

From the very little that I do know of the experiences of those brave individuals who admirably often end up dealing with PTSD on top of the daily stresses of accepting a new life with a disability; I am pleased to learn a little of the psychological support that is rightly in place for them at Headley Court- (the military rehabilitation centre).
As one of the next stops on my quest to try to understand what would be the ideal best practice of psychological support for those facing the transition into disability from all walks of life; I am really keen to hear from those of you who have lived through this transition, (both in civvie street or in the military world), to learn if elements of the military model of care, could perhaps be applied to the NHS infrastructure of psychological support that I passionately believe should be in place as standard for people becoming disabled.
I welcome any of you who would like to share your experiences with me to email me your story to kazreader@hotmail.co.uk.

Whatever you do this rare sunny British ‘Summer’ weekend; enjoy that trip to the park, revel in time catching up with old friends & of course savour that cool glass of Pimms; but please, please, please spare a minute's thought for those wonderful people who make up our amazing British Armed Forces; those serving or retired, medically discharged or sadly no longer with us- I can personally vouch that they are a thoroughly unique & inspiring breed, one that should be supported & respected by us, the British Public.
Smile today & be respectful & proud of what so few have done for so many.

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