What would happen to a combat soldier that became too mentally stressed to fight anymore and refused to do so?

Mudassir Ali
Jan 17, 2020 03:45 PM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Jan 17, 2020 03:45 PM

met a couple of guys that fell into the battle-weary category. None of them, however, refused to fight.

It’s not that you go to your sergeant and tell him to count you out. What these guys often did was that they drank too much or took too many drugs so that they were unable to be sent into action.

Then there is the kind of soldier that should really not run around on the battlefield anymore, but they don’t want to disappoint their comrades and go with them. In battle, however, they quickly become a burden to everyone.

The military has several ways to deal with these people:

Prison. A guy in my unit in Bosnia drank too much booze just a few hours before we launched a massive offensive operation. He passed out somewhere in the dark and it took us some time to figure out where he was and what had happened. Of course, everyone was pissed off about his actions. He was sent to military prison for three weeks. Military prison is no hotel but it beats getting killed in action. I doubt that his imprisonment had any positive effect on him or that it served to keep others from doing the same thing.
Medical discharge. You can send the guy to a shrink who will diagnose PTSD and the army gets rid of him. The problem is that you really don’t help the guy. Often, his buddies were the only “family” he had, the only ones he could trust. Without them, suddenly thrown on the street, he will have to face even more problems than before. In addition to this, these people also often encounter financial problems as they don’t touch the same salary anymore.
Doing nothing about it. This is the typical army approach. You wait until something really bad happens. Needless to say, this isn’t the best course of action, either.
Keep him in the military but out of combat. The Croats did that with many soldiers during the Bosnian War. While the rest of their unit was in the trenches, these guys worked in logistics or in object security, guarding the barracks. It worked out fine. This way, the soldiers preserved their self-esteem and their pay-check (which should never be underestimated). They were still part of the army and could keep in touch with their buddies.

Unlike for cowards or deserters, we had a lot of respect for these guys. There is a breaking point for every combat soldier and we all knew that. You can’t become battle-weary without having been in battle. This is why battle weariness often affected our most experienced combat veterans.

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