CANADA'S TRAUMATIZED SOLDIERS
A once ideal soldier is standing trial [November 2002] against charges brought against him by the same government that stood in the way of him doing his duty*. Corporal Christian McEachern was by all appearances healthy when he returned from Africa in 1996, having survived two of the toughest missions yet faced by Canadian peacekeepers.
Over the next four years, Mr. McEachern, 32, would battle persistent memories of his own helplessness in the face of human carnage.
He testified in court that memories robbed him of sleep, shattered his nerves and frequently left him sobbing. "It was like someone was sticking a knife in my chest."
Mr. McEachern was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 1997 and was on leave from his unit in the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry when an incident occurred. He drove drunk through the doors of the headquarters of a Canadian Forces Base and drove about the empty payroll and personnel offices, toppling desks and file cabinets. He was charged with impaired driving and mischief, as well as assaulting a peace officer during a brief scuffle with military police after his arrest.
For that he's being dragged through court, while, as usual, the TRUE guilty party conducts the prosecution. In this case I'm referring to the Canadian government whose military behaved in a disgraceful manner while deployed in Croatia and Africa, and which this soldier witnessed, and which, along with the psychiatric treatment he received, led to his traumatization.
His case is much like that of General D'Allaire, another excellent Canadian soldier who was traumatized by what he witnessed in Rwanda. In his case, he refused to follow United Nations orders, given by Madeleine Albright and Kofi Annan to stand by and watch the Hutu massacre the Tutsi. Instead he did everything in his power, with a few brave soldiers also willing to defy orders, to come to the rescue of the victims. He is now an empty shell of a man, having been wiped clean by psychiatric treatment including vast quantities of tranquillizers **.
Too much of this is going on in Canada now. Recently there have been stories of Government scuba-divers refusing to dive to the rescue of people trapped in overturned boats and cars; and of Government police refusing to go to the rescue of people in distress and ALSO refusing to allow OTHERS to go their rescue. In all cases the people that have been directly affected by this Government inaction have spoken out against it to varying degrees.
Now we have another case of our Government standing by and watching instead of doing its duty and responding with what is required.
Mr. McEachern, from the witness stand, frequently fought back tears as he recalled his missions in Croatia and Uganda, the latter an aborted assignment to Rwanda that saw him stuck for five weeks in a neighbouring and almost equally troubled land.
In Croatia he saw several friends lose limbs to land mines in areas he regularly patrolled. One engineer attached to his outfit was blown to pieces in a field he and his team guarded.
In Uganda, he witnessed the rape of a woman, yet was refused permission to intervene because Canadian commanders felt they had no business in Ugandan affairs, he said. The contingent never left its bivouac in Entebbe to guard aid convoys in Rwanda, he noted; they left the region dispirited and stressed out.
The military awarded him medals for his African service.
The stocky, greying former soldier held his head and wept as his former common-law wife talked about his nightmares. "I honestly don't think he ever got a good night's sleep. He was always getting up, I mean like two or three times a night. We'd wake up and his side of the bed would be totally drenched in sweat. He would tell me about his nightmares, usually something to do with bombs and grenades."
Mr. McEachern also spoke of his frequent nightmares: "There's the one with the grenade that lands beside me and fails to go off," he said. "Sometimes it does, and sometimes I have this kind of sluggishness that prevents me from moving. It's like you have a piano tied behind your back."
That, in my opinion, is an excellent description of what Canada's government is doing to those who've trained and committed their lives to serving others. Not only in the military, but in almost every aspect of public service, Canadians are, figuratively, being placed in straitjackets, being castrated, or, as this traumatized soldier so eloquently puts it: "having pianos tied behind their backs". ~ Jackie Jura
* compiled from Ideal soldier stands trial (not allowed to help victims). National Post, Nov 14, 2002
University honours General Dallaire ("foe of genocide, complacency"). GeorgetownNews, Mar 23, 2006. Go to MYTH OF SAINT ROMEO
Rwanda, Ten Years Later (ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front that toppled genocidal regime has abolished ethnic divisions). National Geographic, Apr 7, 2004. Go to 10.Rulers & 7.Systems & RWANDA'S GOOD MAN KAGAME
Forces fear feces (men defecate by sides of roads). National Post, Jan 14, 2004. Go to 12.Ministry of Peace (War) & 8.Classes of People
TROOPS BREATHING FECAL MATTER (military to test Kabul's air quality). Ottawa Citizen, Jan 4, 2004. Go to 12.Ministry of Peace (War) & 7.Systems of Thought & BIO/CHEM WARFARE & AFGHANISTAN REMEMBERED
Congo on brink of genocide (UN doing nothing as in Rwanda). Telegraph, May 12, 2003. Go to 6.Disputed Territories and JFK CRIED FOR CONGO
Gulf vet seeks help (cleared uranium in bare hands). Province, May 5, 2003. Go to BIO-CHEM WARFARE & MAMAS DON'T LET YOUR BABIES
**Broken Soldier. ABC, Nightline. ("In peacekeeping you are not fighting. An individual sergeant or corporal who witnesses such actions and cannot use force goes through a mental crash. His moral values, his ethical values, his religious beliefs are brought together and they're all crashing," says D'Allaire.)
peaceofficer, peacekeeper - people who stand by doing nothing while wrongs are committed against others OR who act aggressively ONLY against those attempting to intervene on behalf of victims. ~ Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~