You know, how often do we stop and think about the soldiers? We scream and shout about the innocent that are killed and wounded, we complain about the costs of war in terms of lives and public capital, we grieve for the dead, but do we ever really pause to give thought to the effects of sending young men, who have chosen to serve their nation, to a battle zone of pain, loss and destruction? How often do we stop to think about the changes that our youth undergo in war? Do we give enough thought to the nightmare that goes with having to adjust mentally and sometimes physically to life as normal on their return?
We train these boys to become killing machines, send them into a war zone where survival becomes an instinct, criticise the work they do, print horrific stories detailing the horrors of war perpetrated often by all sides in the conflict, pay them a pittance for doing this service and when they return conveniently forget about them. Who tells their story? Who takes the time to help them heal the wounds, repair the metal damage they suffer? Who helps them deal with the emotions, memories and nightmares they have learnt to bury?
Do we even really see the effect of war on our young generation of service men and women?
In thinking about this I went hunting online, looking for people that work with soldiers suffering from the trauma of war. In my hunt I came across the work of a young photographer in the Netherlands called Claire Felicie. She undertook to work with a group of young marines from the 13th Infantry Company of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps during their posting to Afghanistan in 2009/10. In her portrayal of these men, she took close up portrait pictures of the service men before, during and after their deployment to Uruzgan in Afghanistan.
These pictures are set out in haunting triptychs that clearly and emphatically highlight the effects of conflict on our precious youth. You cannot help but look at these pictures and feel moved. Maybe, just maybe, its time that we should stop and give prolonged consideration to the damage we do to these boys and girls when we send them to war. Perhaps its time to give these brave and dedicated service personnel the real support, credit and recognition they deserve. Maybe its time to think about the lives we break, damage and shatter to protect interests that really aren’t that important in the bigger scheme of things. Look at these pictures and tell me that these boys don’t deserve better!