The conflict in Nigeria’s north east could become catastrophic if the influx of war veterans into the society without appropriate action to integrate them into normal society is not checked.
This warning was given by Air Commodore Abayomi Balogun (rtd), founder of the Green Heroes Foundation,
an organisation formed to create public awareness for post traumatic disorder, PTSD, in war veterans.
Air Commodore Balogun pointed that the Armed Forces of Nigeria has been involved in several campaigns and battles since the World Wars: “They fought the civil war in Nigeria, the wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone and have been largely instrumental to maintaining peace and security in the country. They are currently engaged in the war against insurgency in North-East and low intensity conflicts in various parts of the country.
In all these wars and conflicts, we have lost several men and women. Some of those who came back were forever scarred, some were emotionally traumatized while some were permanently maimed. Their children, spouses and family members also suffered from the effects of war on soldiers.
“Everyday you hear of soldiers who have been fighting wars committing crimes such as murder, suicide or other unprintable crimes, some are mentally unstable. Our society has not sat back to examine why. The reason is not far fetched. It is post traumatic disorder, which can be treated as a disorder and managed. Other countries do not send soldiers straight home from warfare, they are sent to a center where they are psychologically debriefed besides other military disengagement process.”
Air Commodre Balogun says the Nigerian Armed Forces is doing its best but the Green Heroes Foundation will not only identify the disorder but also spread awareness of the disorder to the society by creating awareness, networking with other NGOs and international organisations and create a facility for these war veterans, among others’
“Only yesterday, we heard the story of an Army officer who shot his colleagues killing about five of them before turning the gun on himself. That is my fear. The danger is real and we must take it seriously now before it escalates and we start having mass shootings of civilians as we have in the Western world, God Forbid.” Balogun concludes
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