Mark Harding Speech

In speaking to you tonight, I am conscious that I am addressing two different audiences: some of you are servicemen or women, serving or retired and some of you are Civilians. Caroline was triggered into action, by images of our soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and greater numbers of soldiers returning from operations having suffered life-changing injuries. I will speak about the British soldier.

As soldiers we had a tendency to avoid speaking of what we have done, particularly when it gets personal. So I am going attempt to describe the work we did. Imagine yourself standing at the gateway of a patrol base, burdened with equipment, tired from relentless patrolling on dusty roads of primitive looking villages; on dusty roads, patrolling their way across irrigation ditches between fields of poppy or sweetcorn and conversing with the local people by means of signs, and lack of sleep, preparing yourself to step-out into the fields beyond to seek an elusive, cunning enemy who has placed mines or booby traps designed to maim or kill you and your comrades, as well as any unfortunate passer-by. Think for a moment what it must be like to go out, day after day, to defuse one form of IED device or another, It is easy to forget that beneath the apparently hardened operational soldiers are ordinary young men and women from our home towns and villages. But what about when it goes wrong? No soldier is really fully prepared for the effect of enemy action on themselves or their colleagues, but when it does go down its all about the person to the left and right of you. One minute they are out on patrol in the thick of the action, and the next, after a hallucinatory journey of pain and confusion, they find themselves in a hospital bed thousands of miles away. In one split second they leave a world of banter and friends who will cover their backs on patrol in Helmand Province, and enter one in which all too easily they can feel alone. They face months of struggle to heal wounds; to learn to live with whatever their new reality holds; and eventually to leave the military world in which, whether they realised it or not, they were so comfortable, and enter a very different jungle for which their experience can leave them unprepared.

And this was where Caroline stepped in. She somehow understood what the soldiers felt and put them at ease so she could capture the soldiers strengths and also the struggles the soldiers have to deal with on a day to day without any complaint in there new life. The way I seen my injury or the label disability which is totally wrong word for a Soldier. I’d rather be called Adaptive because in a soldiers mind we told to

A – Adjustability D – Determination A – Accountability P – Perseverance T – Trust

To any situation or challenge given to us. Which many of the Injury’s soldiers have because Afghanistan was there war no there injures are there war In closing, I would emphasise that the Army tries very hard to look after its own, and so too do the Regiments and Corps to which our soldiers belong to. But having Caroline doing our painting and capturing our strength will surely push the future soldiers forward know that life does go on well even after injury.


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