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Counter-recruitment Picket on Anti-Arms Day of Action

stateofemergency | 31.07.2007 12:12 | DSEi 2007 | Anti-militarism | Iraq | Terror War | London

To coincide with the Disarm DSEi call for two days of action against the arms trade stateofemergency picketed the Bloomsbury armed forces recruitment centre, people will be going armed with placards and fliers to give a counter view of what life is like in the army. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan raging the chances of being killed and injured have increased dramatically over the past few years. But even if ex-services personnel make it back alive many are still scared for life from their experiences. The Bloomsbury recruitment centre is located in the same building as the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO), the government's arms sales agency, which ironically markets weapons to many of the countries where British soldiers die.

Bloomsbury Way, London

Below is the text of the fliers given out:

The armed forces has always been a high stress occupation, leaving a high percentage of ex-servicemen and women with clinical depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, bi-polar disorder, and a greater likelihood to engage in substance abuse(1). Since 2001, and the invasion of Afghanistan, life has become ever more dangerous for those joining the military.

In Afghanistan there have been 68 deaths since 2001(2) (39 of which happened in 2006 alone). The situation is even worse in Iraq, where 163(3) British troops have been killed, whilst the number of injured UK military personnel is over 2,700(4).

The number of British casualties though is tiny when compared to the number of Iraqis who have died. According to the best available estimate(5), there have been at least 655,000 war-related deaths in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. 26 percent of Iraqis have experienced the death of a relative in the last 3 years(6).

Even those that are lucky enough to come back from a combat zone alive still have a difficult life ahead of them. 25% of rough sleepers in the UK were once part of the Armed Forces(7). Combat Stress, the main mental health organisation for ex-armed services personnel, has long been helping those who have seen military service deal with mental health problems including:
Clinical depression, phobic disorders, PTSD (aka Shell-shock or battle fatigue), psychotic conditions, substance abuse (drugs and alcohol), bi-polar disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, and raised anxiety states(8).

There is also a large body of evidence suggesting that those who return from active service are a greater danger to themselves (either through self-harm or attempting suicide) and a greater risk to their family(9), with a greater propensity to commit domestic abuse(10) or murder(11) than the civilian population.

For more information on these topics we would encourage you to use the resources to the right. There are thousands of opportunities outside of the military where you don't have to suffer these traumatic, stressful events. Perhaps you can explore those.

1. 2. Ministry of Defence 3. ibid
4. Hansard ( 5. The Lancet mortality survey (
6. Public attitudes in Iraq - 4 Years On poll, 3/2007 (
7. Crisis homeless charity 8.
9. "Ex-soldier kills family", BBC (
10. &
11. "50% of women murdered suffered domestic abuse", House of Commons debate, (

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Display the following 2 comments

  1. Who'll run the next DSEI ? — Danny
  2. Reed — JC