Warning: May Be Emotional to Read
We still serve!
I wanted to post this, not only to pay my respects to Henry, but to make others understand what war and politicians do to people…. RIP Brother.
A Veterans Suicide Letter At the Request of Rose, His Mother: “I’m only posting this today. Henry committed suicide by taking a lethal dose of sleeping pills. Police were called when his Mum Rose couldn’t open the door to his flat as he’d bolted it. He’d left food out for his 11mth old kitten Storm. He had left everything neat and tidy laid out the things he wanted to be cremated in, left all the information she needed to sort out his affairs.
He had cleaned his medals but left a note to send them back to the MoD. He had sent an email at 23.50pm Sunday knowing she wouldn’t get it till the next day. Rose has asked all of us that knew and loved Henry to post a copy of that email on every social media platform we can. It contains some quite upsetting things but remember this was written by a man choosing to clear his mind and put his truth out there.
Henry John James (24/12/1976 – 29/8/2021 (44)) named by his mum after her favourite American/British author Henry James. Loving son, brother, friend, never got to be husband or father and FORMER proud British soldier. That word is the key to my decision today to commit suicide.
“Though I physical die today we all know I died in Hellmand Province in July 2009 when we lost 6 in a week to IEDs among them Tace and H and I was there for both. People think IED they think your killed outright if your lucky; you are but often your just waiting to die or your seriously maimed that’s the next best thing. I sat with Tace as his hand shook and he yelled in pain for his Mum till it finally ended. It was a relief. I lied to him telling him it was all going to be ok. We both knew it wasn’t. H was lucky. People don’t realise IEDs create smoke, dust, smell and that’s burnt flesh, blood or explosive, and if you’re nearby, blood and other bits get on your uniform.
Your deafened by the noise, your ears ring and your first thought isn’t someone died, it’s I didn’t, is any part of me missing? You’re thrown up in the air, and you have no control of where you land. In my case on both days – no, I didn’t die, I walked away. I survived 3 IEDs that week the next one in August 2010 I survived but I lost my left arm. I was too close but someone else died, ironically I lost the hand that Tace held. You never give them your right hand as the right is still on your gun.
Between those two dates I killed as many Taliban as I could. Each one for the boys we lost. I’d have killed more if I could have. It helped me to forget the horrors and so I became immune to it. I enjoyed it, I admit to myself. I got my nickname postit as I would write the day, time and number of each one I killed. Yes, I denied it all this time, but I did it, and they are in my top box in the living room. The count was 57. It’s a good number in a year and I can say I’m proud of it. Proud I killed 57 Taliban fighters, but sad it wasn’t more. Double would have been good. But it’s only after you return home when your PTSD develops and you can hear the sounds, smells, and the full horror of what you experienced – it turns up at any time. A noise, a smell and your back there, anything can trigger it.
They send you to rehabilitation for your lost arm, bit of therapy for the PTSD then they let you go. They give you a bit of money, but that’s it. ‘Thanks for your service’ as the Yanks say.
Your a civilian and your not a priority, so you find yourself on every-day lists to see various people to supposedly help you who don’t know what it’s like to have served. They haven’t been there. You can’t tell them the real problems You’re facing: I want to go back. I wan t to keep on killing Taliban as it makes me feel better. Then there’s Death.
The war took that future from me. The future with a wife, and children. I don’t even remember ever having such a dream. The truth is I left her because she didn’t get it. She thought going on with the wedding was a good thing. Talking endlessly about dresses, food, venues, cake; when all I could see was Tace the day I asked him to be my best man. She didn’t even know I’d asked him, because she assumed it would be her brother. But he wasn’t my best mate. He couldn’t be. We had different lives. He was a great bloke, but he worked in Asda, not much like a war zone in any way.
I’d stopped being Henry.
I’m rambling because I want to write it all down. Everything, even the bits you don’t know. I want you to show everyone what I was like when I made the decision to take my life. But I know you’ll be devastated Mum. You’ll want to know why? What did you miss? What could you have done? Should I have done more? But the truth is you did everything you could. The private therapist was working, and in all my dark days I never even thought about suicide. So why? You ask. I fought in a war that they said was changing the face of a region bringing it into the 21st century. A world where people could grow up, listen to pop music, girls could go to school without fear, girls could dream of being anything they wanted to be. No more burkas if they didn’t want them, hair and beauty salons and to finally own a pet. Yes to own a pet.
You knew I was still in contact with Aalem and his family. His two girls were at university: one wanted to be an architect, and the other an engineer. They wanted to rebuild and improve their country. We talked about my visiting, but we’d delayed it due to Covid. What you don’t know is he got a letter saying he didn’t qualify to come to the U.K. In the evacuation he was now considered a threat.
A guy who was an interpreter and scout for us. A man who I’d sat down with in his home, with his family, and to eat with many times. He’s left to face a future going backwards. See that was our legacy, the glue that stopped me thinking of suicide. We had done our job and these people had a good life free of fear of the Taliban. They had a future, and it was getting better. Now, they just pulled the rug from under them. Their back to square one. We wasted 20 years and all those lives: ours and the civilians, and for what? So a politician can try and remain President?
So people can say no more Americans are dying in a foreign land, to save money. See Mum, There’s no legacy, and I tried to contact Aalem all day Saturday because he was scared they’d come for him. His phone died. Is he ok? I don’t know. Did he escape? I don’t know. I’ll never know, but I can’t watch these politicians slapping themselves on the back for a job well done for getting people out, telling veterans we didn’t make sacrifices in vain.
We did, you never sacrificed anything your greedier, you lied and you have now started the killing again. You’ve thrown the people in Afghanistan to the wolves.
Sitting somewhere in a house, in Kabul maybe, probably watching people, maybe even his family killed. You’ve created the next Bin Laden. The next terrorist, not against the Taliban but YOU. You who left him behind to suffer. He will blame YOU, not them. He will come after US not them. It will start again.
It will be your fault. I can’t be a part of history like the Vietnam veteran before me, forgotten because of a failed American war just like this one. You’ve killed me along with them – another victim. I’ve made peace with just leaving now. I want you to know I was getting there, but this just started it all again and I can’t go through it again. I’m sorry. I love you Mum, I’m sorry it’s so close to you losing Issac, but I just can’t do it all again; another 11 years of therapy etc.
I can’t pick up and start again because that one thing I had was that glue we made a sacrifice for. For them to have a better life. It was worth and it’s ruined, spoilt, gone!
Please don’t be annoyed you’ve seen my darkest days. I can’t do them again. I’m tired of waking up sweating after seeing Tace blown six foot in the air to land impaled on a rusting piece of discarded metal with both legs hanging there.
So I’ll miss Sunday dinner best Yorkshire puddings and roast tattles ever. Tell Maisie to please look after Storm, she’s a great cat and really helped me, but I can’t stay just for her. Please keep her. I know she will be company for your one: they’re sisters after all.
I’m off to see H and Tace. I’ve done my research, and I’ll just go to sleep. See you again one day. All my love to everyone.
Post it for me Mum – post this. Many of us are still fighting this war in our heads and probably always will, but not me anymore. I’m done fighting, I can’t do it anymore.
Eternal love your Henry.”
A wasted life among many wasted lives – I have to remember to breathe sometimes otherwise anger and rage will overwhelm me.
This makes Fifty-five Veterans who have committed Suicide in the United Kingdom this Year.
Not only should we Remember Then – But We Need To Ask Our MPs WHY?