This is the case of John Kamau, a 32-year-old cadet who left the military because of his battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Kamau’s journey to the KDF started after he received a rare call from his then Member of Parliament who asked if he could join the army.
At the time, Kamau was a student at the University of Nairobi (UoN) studying Agricultural engineering having scored Grade A-minus in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE).
Due to their financial situation back at home, Kamau decided to join the military with the hope of bettering his life and that of his family. Little did he know that his decision would cost him this mental health and family.
In a TV interview on February 18, the ex-military man revealed how his experience in Somalia changed his life.
â€œI was commissioned as a second lieutenant as a second commandant. As a humble soldier, I was transformed from being that humble civilian to a soldier and it did not work very well.
â€œIn Somalia, there is no sleeping. Every time you are on guard because of the sounds of gunfire everywhere. I have lost very many close friends. During the El Adde attack, I lost three officers with whom we were commissioned with,â€ he recounted.
Kamau explained that his time in Somalia contributed to his PTSD adding that he lost connection with his family after getting back to the country. The former Military man added that he was afraid of being around his family because of his state.
â€œI am not amputated physically but I am amputated in the brain. I have been on a healing process trying to heal those wounds. Sometimes you are brought back home and your family does not know that they have been given an animal because PTSD is something else,â€ Kamau stated.
Additionally, the ex-military man blamed the government for failing to develop measures to prepare the servicemen and veterans for the huge task that awaits them in the field and life after operations.
â€œThis is where we go wrong as a country. We did not go through that process of counseling yet I have a medal for restoring peace in Somalia. You can see that I am back but I do not even understand myself. I do not want to go back to work,â€ he expressed.
On her part, Retired Major Wairimu Mukuria, a former KDF psychologist stated military officers go through emotional distress despite the bravery they display during their operations. She urged Kenyans to embrace military personnel stating that they also needed love and protection.
â€œI suffered PTSD and we all deserve a second chance. We have this generation who went to Somalia. Their experience is historical. It cannot be business as usual for those officers. They need a sense of protection from everyone,” he stated.
Counselors, medics, and psychologists advise that you can always reach out for help when experiencing any mental health issues. Call Kenya Red Cross toll-free hotline, 1199 for support.