Shock and recovery

There is growing evidence that in recovery from trauma, or any other debilitating condition, we recover best and most fully when we recover TOGETHER - and there is no group for whom that is more true than for those who have been closely bonded, but also scarred, by combat.

In the military, 'you look after your mates'. It is the pivot of services life. When that isn't there, the absence is most stark.

There is also no group more excluded than those who cannot share their experiences of trauma, or even of finding strength, because no-one will understand, or listen; and that we see in the ex-services population almost as much as we do in mainstream mental health.

Here what we are most interested in is how we can construct new environments that will bring the best out of 'veterans', or 'ex-services personnel', and allow them to re-access their strengths, and not just recover from their traumas.

An interesting example of that is the ex-services self-build housing project in Bristol, where - perhaps tellingly? - the research team chose to include an anthropologist rather than a psychologist, to study what the experience had meant to the formerly homeless participants.

But it is also worth drawing out the similarities between recovery for ex-military personnel, and recovery for other groups where peer support is valuable - 'you catch it from your mates', as Brian Morgan says, in 'Building recovery communities' - or from other kinds of shock - domestic violence, torture, or natural disaster.


NB: Here we have adopted the term 'ex-military', in contrast to either 'veterans' or 'ex-services', the two commonest terms in the US and the UK respectively.

Further reading

Library items

Combat stress 100  (a film made by veterans) : HERE

"You look after your mates" and Base camp HERE

Also: DCLG good practice guidance example: Home Base HERE

A discussion with veterans village CEO Kevin Jamison HERE

Self-build projects can transform the lives of homeless veterans HERE

"Building recovery communities " HERE

Marinated in violence  HERE

Homelessness, Housing First, and Mental First Aid  HERE