*…Govt fails to address their plight, PTSD
*We want govt to engage us before things get out of hand, war veterans lamented
*As Green Heroes Foundation feeds, donates palliative to widows of fallen heroes, disabled soldiers, others
Senator Iroegbu and Godsgift Onyedinefu
Retired soldiers also known as War Veterans, who fought in the frontline for Nigeria’s peace and security, especially the counter insurgency operations against Boko Haram Terrorists, are ticking time-bombs waiting to erupt anytime, except government pays attention and engage them positively, Air Commodore Abayomi Balogun, a retired Military personnel has warned.
Abayomi, who is the Coordinator of Green Heroes, a foundation dedicated to catering for the needs of war veterans and their families, said these ex-soldiers pose a threat to the society, while disclosing that some of them develop psychological problems, particularly Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which has not gotten the needed assessment and treatment.
He added that the Nigerian government has also failed to give them adequate reorientation before reintegration into the society.
Balogun made these remarks ton Sunday at the Valentine Day Love Fest 2021 organised by the Green Heroes Foundation, where palliatives were given to Military Widows, disabled Ex-soldiers and families of frontline Soldiers.
According to him, most of the soldiers suffer one form sociological, physiological and psychological disorder or another with little or no attention from the government and the society.
He said: “The Nigerian Legion is supposed to be in charge of War Veterans who are like ticking time bombs to our society if not well taken care of. But the Legion is not doing enough, and we want government to look at this direction, especially based on the threat that they pose to the society.
“These are men and women that have been exposed to violence, while selflessly serving the country. They have either killed in defence of the country or narrowly escaped being killed with all the psychological trauma. Now they are back into the society without adequate reorientation and reintegration.”
“Normally, a lot of them come back with psychological issues that require proper assessment and treatment. So, I want government to please pay special attention to this people because they say an idle mind is the devils workshop. If we don’t engage them positively, they will be engaged negatively by dubious people to cause mayhem in our country,” he warned.
The retired General informed that about 120 families are being presented with palliative in the spirit of valentine.
Emmanuel James, an ex-soldier lamented how life has been since he left Military service, but thanked the Foundation for helping him pull through.
“I faced many challenges and I am frustrated. I was retired unjustly because I did not commit any offence and this pains me a lot. I cannot even sleep when I think of it. This Foundation is helping us to make us happy and I thank God for Green Heroes for this initiative,” James said.
In the same vein, Olusegun Ogundipe a former anti-Boko Haram combatant with 231 battalion Biu, Borno State, said life has been difficult for him since he left the military and he has been unable to get a job due to the perception of the people.
Ogundipe also alluded to the fact that ex-soldiers who are currently not engaged meaningfully can resort to violence if their plight is prolonged.
According to him, “It is difficult for a prematurely retired soldier to get a job, becaue people look at you like a condemned human being. I am begging government to consider us, we are able bodied men, gallant men, they drove us out of the system after spending a lot money to train us. If we decide to join the bad gang, most of the problem that we are facing in this country may he because of this.
“You trained us how to kill and then send us into the society, and leave us to roam the streets. Now we cannot get job, how do you expect us to cope. We are ready to still fight if they can get us back. We are 3,200 that we’re summarily dismissed and retired. We have begged the government to do something to ameliorate our situation before things get out of hand. Most of us can’t pay our children’s school fees, most of us our wives have left us. We want to leave a better life”, he cried while speaking to Global Sentinel.
Also speaking, Ms. Elizabeth Etoma, a widow of a fallen hero lamented that it has been difficult for her family. She regretted that her family suffering accommodation problem and do not have jobs as well their children who are graduates do not have jobs either.
She however, expressed her gratitude to Green Heroes Foundation, for the support so far.
“I am here because a great man (Air Commodore Abayomi Balogun), invited us to celebrate valentine. This is rare. Most of us don’t have where to stay after we leave the barracks and the money they pay us is usually not enough. We are pleading with government to get home for us and especially, the orphans.
“Our children have graduated, no job. We the widows are able to work, even if it is cleaning job, we are ready to do it. We do not want to always depend on government for palliatives and our children that have graduated they should give them job”, she pleaded.
Responding, the Chairman of the occasion, Rear Admiral Harry Ngonadi (rtd), said catering for the veterans and widows is not the responsibility of government alone but also that of the private sector and members of the society, who are encouraged to join the initiative.
To this end, Ngonadi who runs a private security and facility firm as well as other businesses pledged to employ some of the widows and ex-soldiers present.
Also urging for urgent action to be taken to alleviate the sufferings of these ex-combatants, promised to get more people involved in what he considered a noble project.