50 paratroopers and medics from Army Reserve 1 units worked alongside their regular counterparts in 16 Air Assault Brigade, in the biggest military exercise in Europe. Earlier in the week we published a story about 16 Air Assault Brigade working with the Royal Navy and RAF 2 as part of Joint Warrior. Today we meet some of the reservists who were involved.
Private James Dytham, a mental health nurse from Bedlington in County Durham, has been in 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment (4 PARA) 3 for 2-and-a-half years. The 27-year-old said: Being a nurse and a paratrooper are poles apart, but I joined the Paras to challenge myself within one of the strongest infantry regiments in the world. Private James Dytham Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy, Crown copyright This is my first exercise with the regulars and it s been very different.
At 4 PARA we work at platoon level and cram a lot into a weekend training camp, whereas on a major exercise like this there s more time and resources to work on bigger and more complex tasks, he added. I really enjoyed and learnt a lot from the airfield assault. There s a massive adrenaline kick running into action off the back of a Hercules transport aircraft.
Time flies and before you know it you re 4 hours into an attack, but it only feels like 5 minutes! Reservist medics from 144 Parachute Medical Squadron have been working as combat medical technicians with the infantry and within treatment facilities set up by 16 Medical Regiment, their regular parent unit. Reservist medical officer Major Yuk Mo Kan Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy, Crown copyright Major Yuk Mo Kan, an anaesthetist at Southend University Hospital, is working as a medical officer.
The 39-year-old is in charge of triaging and treating casualties arriving at the military equivalent of a hospital s accident and emergency unit. Major Kan said: I joined up to challenge myself and use my clinical skills in a very different environment. This is the first brigade exercise I ve been on and I ve really appreciated the scale of the deployment.
As an individual, you are a cog within a cog, but everyone has to do their job for the whole machine to work. In the 4 years I ve been a reservist I ve seen a real change in culture and we are now fully integrated with regulars. This exercise has been a great opportunity to cement the working relationships we have already formed with 16 Medical Regiment.
Major Yuk Mo Kan assesses a casualty during Exercise Joint Warrior Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy, Crown copyright The 1,600-strong battle group deployed on Joint Warrior is built around the airborne infantry of 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment 4 bolstered by artillery, engineers, medics, signallers and logisticians from 16 Air Assault Brigade 5 . The training is designed to prepare them to serve as the Air Assault Task Force, which is ready to deploy anywhere in the world at short notice to conduct the full range of military operations Lieutenant Colonel Dave Macauley, who is in charge of the brigade s reservists, said: The reserves within 16 Air Assault Brigade are fully partnered with their regular counterparts. This integration has been powerfully demonstrated by the way regulars and reserves have worked together on Joint Warrior.
It has been a very demanding and complex exercise that has shown that reservists are capable and ready to deploy with the army s rapid reaction force. The UK reserve forces play a vital part in our nation s defence. Find out how you can get involved 6 and what is on offer for reserves.
References ^ Army Reserve (www.army.mod.uk) ^ 16 Air Assault Brigade working with the Royal Navy and RAF (www.gov.uk) ^ 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment (4 PARA) (www.army.mod.uk) ^ 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (www.army.mod.uk) ^ 16 Air Assault Brigade (www.army.mod.uk) ^ Find out how you can get involved (www.gov.uk)
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Reservists train with army rapid reaction force
By CNN’s Deena Zaru When a soldier s time on the front lines of combat is over, veterans like Marine Captain Jason Haag, face a lingering and painful internal battle defined by the trauma of war. When you come home you are haunted by flashbacks of having your friends killed, killing other people and probably the biggest thing for me is the paranoia of living step by step, second by second, never knowing when your last moment might be, Haag says. Haag served in the Marines for 14 years, completing two combat tours to Iraq and one to Afghanistan.
He was shot in 2003 and suffered a traumatic brain injury but the wound that has left a deep and defining mark is a severe case of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS). After each deployment Haag s PTS intensified and on each trip home he became more depressed and isolated. His family threw him a party when he returned from Afghanistan.
After everyone left, he was left alone to face his demons. For the next two years he lived in his basement and went to bed with a gun underneath his pillow. There s always that sense of elation that comes with going home but then it goes away and you are left alone with your thoughts.
You realize that you don t have your Marines watching your back and you re still having nightmares and you think to yourself Holy crap! Where s my gun? says Haag.
He suffered from persistent insomnia and became dependent on pain killers and alcohol in order to self-medicate. His PTS and substance abuse led to violent outbursts of anger. I was frightened of the outside world.
I was somebody that led one hundred marines into combat three different times but I couldn t go to 7-11 to buy a pack of gum, says Haag. Due to the stigma associated with PTS, Captain Haag says it took over ten years to ask for help. When he finally went to the Veterans Affairs active duty mental health clinic he was turned away.
I was a grown man- a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, I was crying in full breakdown mode and they told me to come back later, says Haag. They don t know how to deal with it quite honestly.
There s obviously a systematic failure somewhere that needs to be fixed. Once diagnosed, he was prescribed several pills and at one point, he was taking, abusing and snorting up to 32 different medications and narcotics. His heavy drinking continued and he became more and more isolated.
I was fighting with my family and destroying my marriage. My wife came to me and told me that she s been through all of this but that I have one more shot. She told me you ve got to do better or I will have to take the kids and leave, says Haag.
Following the advice of a neighbor and holding out hope that he will find a way to save himself, Haag did some research and requested a service dog. Haag says that while Medications are a great way to stabilize someone, to get them to a point where they can find an alternate therapy, they are often used as band aids to a deep and destructive emotional problem. The alternate therapy that saved my life is my service dog Axel, says Haag.
In September of 2012, Haag got help from K9 s for Warriors 1 , who rescue dogs and train them to provide relief for veterans suffering from PTS. Axel was a week away from being put down in a shelter and by taking him in, Haag saved his life. Axel gave Haag the companionship and security his fellow Marines had provided him and made it possible for him to tone down his hyper vigilance and assimilate into the world.
About three months after getting Axel, Haag took a leap and went on a trip with his new companion to Colorado. Axel and I we were sitting in the hotel room and he looked over at me and I looked over at him and we knew that we did it. We traveled 2000 miles together says Haag.
When he got home he went to his son s baseball game for the first time in three years. With the help of Axel, Haag has been narcotic free for almost a year. Axel hit the reset button for me and gave me a reason to get up in the morning.
I m dependent on him and he s dependent on me, says Haag. Axel immediately changed my family dynamic. I got to see smiles on my children s faces again.
He not only saved my life but he also saved my family and you can t put a price on that. *Captain Jason Haag now serves on the Board of Directors of K9 s for Warriors *Photos provided by Jason Haag Programming note: CNN s Candy Crowley talks to Senator Walsh and Tom Tarantino about what else can be done to help.
The interview will air on CNN s State of the Union 2 Sunday, April 20th at 9am & 12pm ET.
References ^ K9 s for Warriors (www.k9sforwarriors.org) ^ CNN s State of the Union (sotu.blogs.cnn.com)
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A soldier's battle at home State of the Union – CNN.com Blogs
Returning troops from Afghanistan march through Congleton.Just a short snippet of film from the afternoon, it must have taken about 3 minutes for them all to march by with their band.
This end of town was quiet but the town centre was packed with crowds who had come to see them, there was a medal giving ceremony, but I never even got close to the town hall it was so packed!
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The Minute Diary, 10th November 2010-1st Mercian Regiment …