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  • Philip Breen and Nicholas Mellor

From being an injured veteran to becoming a catalyst for a more inclusive society

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

Supporting disabled veterans in post-conflict countries is essential not only for their individual well-being but also for fostering inclusive societies, economic development, peacebuilding, and stability. It is an investment in the future of the nation, ensuring that the aftermath of conflict is transformed into a sustainable and peaceful environment for all.

While we are focusing on long-term strategies to ensure justice, inclusion and lasting peace, we also have at the front of our thinking the highly acute short-term pressures faced by individuals and institutions as a result of this war. And more specifically how the right short-term intervention can provide a clear pathway to sustainable peace.

Supporting disabled veterans is crucial for rebuilding countries and ensuring peace in conflict-affected nations for several reasons:

Upholding Human Rights: Disabled veterans have often sacrificed their physical and mental well-being while serving their country. Supporting them is a matter of upholding their fundamental human rights and ensuring they receive the care and assistance they need to lead dignified lives.

Redefining ‘rehabilitation’: The physical toll on disabled veterans is regrettably clear to see. What is less clear and equally significant are the mental scars. Rebuilding minds and bodies is essential to post-conflict Ukraine. PTSD among veterans is affecting and will affect a great many people throughout their lives. Understanding and treatment of this condition is vital to our understanding of long term rehabilitation.

Inclusive Rebuilding: Disabled veterans are an integral part of post-conflict societies. By providing support, countries can promote inclusivity and ensure that all segments of society, including those with disabilities, are included in the process of rebuilding. This inclusivity fosters social cohesion and reduces the potential for further conflicts based on marginalisation and exclusion.

Expertise and Skills: Disabled veterans often possess unique skills and expertise gained during their military service. By harnessing their knowledge and experiences, countries can tap into a valuable resource for reconstruction efforts. These veterans can contribute to various sectors, such as infrastructure development, healthcare, and education, which are vital for rebuilding societies.

Economic Development: Disabled veterans, when provided with the necessary support and rehabilitation, can become active contributors to the economy. By empowering them through vocational training and employment opportunities, countries can foster economic growth and stability. This, in turn, reduces the likelihood of societal discontent, unemployment-related grievances, and potential sources of conflict.

Peacebuilding and Stability: Disabled veterans are often well-respected figures within their communities. By supporting them, countries demonstrate their commitment to peace and stability. These veterans can serve as powerful agents for peace building, using their influence to promote reconciliation, bridge divides, and prevent future conflicts.

Moral Obligation: Providing support to disabled veterans is a moral obligation for nations that have sent their citizens to fight in conflicts. These veterans have made significant sacrifices on behalf of their countries, and it is incumbent upon societies to honour their service and ensure their well-being.

It is people who have lived through this experience that can talk about the importance of this approach with authority and authenticity that most people will never know. In the first mission, Alex Lewis,

shared his experience of being a quadruple amputee and using his insights to promote ‘user-led innovation’ as illustrated by the Koalaa soft prosthetic.

In the second mission, Edward Hall, an injured veteran from the UK Army was able to meet recovering amputees in hospitals throughout the Lviv region and talk to them as a peer who had experienced his own long journey to recovery, and a new life beyond the army.

In this third mission, we are working with Mike Wildeman on creating opportunities for amputees and the role they can play in promoting a more inclusive, resilient society.

Our British veterans see no boundaries when it comes to the rehabilitation of those injured by war. They will continue to make the case to UK based charities to support overseas veterans. UK veterans, with their vast experience and expertise can be a key part of building a lasting and sustainable peace for Ukraine.


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