Letter: The war is over, but not its pain

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THE FINDING that veterans of the Second World War are still suffering is not news to their families and those who care for them ("Veterans of WW2 still in trauma", 7 November). I am the wife of a prisoner of war, and the daughter of a civilian internee and a refugee; indeed I was a refugee myself - all part of the Singapore debacle of 1942. In researching the background for the publication of my mother's war diary, I have come across searing cases of military, civilian and childhood traumas that are still live and hurting. I understand very well the survival tactics that such prisoners as my father and husband developed during their appalling deprivation and psychological torture, but there has been little recognition of how impossible these are to live with in civilian and family life, for both the prisoners and their families. I dearly love my husband of nearly 40 years but can no longer live with him: when he is bad it is just too damaging and dangerous. We are still together, however; indeed we shall be marching with the old lags, and the ghosts, past the Cenotaph today. Throughout my husband's extensive darkest times, I have never received one word of recognition or understanding from hospitals that have treated him.

The research conducted at Nottingham Trent is long overdue, is most welcome and begins to document what actually happens to people. I should like to see it extended to include the families and carers of the sufferers, and the civilian internees, including women and children. None of us can look at the pictures coming out of Chechnya, and all other wars since "our own", without knowing what all those people are suffering and what the lasting effects are likely to be. I congratulate Dr Hunt on being the first to ask.

MARY HARRIS

London W11

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