The dead are poignant. The living, and those left living with the consequences, are not always quite so tastefully emotive or photogenic. The young veteran for whom I acted as an advocate during his hospital treatment, was not the kind of chap most people reading this would like to go down the pub with. Out of uniform, he's easily dismissed as a hard-drinking, gobby chav. In uniform, he's obliged to put his balls on the line at the bidding of the government most of us voted, and he did that for a measly £18K a year,significantly less than the average expenses claims of our elected representatives. If, as is probable, his injuries mean he will not be able to return to his unit, even in a reduced capacity, he is statistically quite likely to end up in jail. Something like ten percent of the prison population are former members of the armed forces. left completely adrift in civilian life when the support network and camaraderie and sense of purpose offered by military life is lost to them. His injuries, physical and psychological, will limit significantly the choices he can make and are likely to limit - drastically - his life expectancy.
Silence is not enough. The charities that take care of men in his situation are woefully underfunded, given the demands they are presently facing. The price of a drink in a London bar is about a fiver these days. If you can spare that today (I appreciate it is probably the cost of a whole round up North) please give it to one of the following:
by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.
Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.
We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.
You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!