The Sandbag Times Issue No:32

The Veterans Magazine

The Veterans Magazine

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<strong>The</strong> Veterans’ Magazine<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> <strong>32</strong> | July 2017<br />

Chennai 6 Latest<br />

Read the latest on the recent<br />

protests and the hunger strikes<br />

Big Phil Campion<br />

SAS and Security Operative<br />

Phil Campion teams up<br />

with the SBT<br />

Plus all the National<br />

and International<br />

Veterans and Armed<br />

Forces News<br />


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| 2 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk

Six veterans being held in prison in<br />

Chennai, India are still awaiting the<br />

outcome of an appeal to overturn their<br />

conviction of possession of illegal arms<br />

despite thier authorising paperwork<br />

allowing them to carry arms in their<br />

professional anti-piracy role.<br />

<strong>The</strong> six were detained in October 2013 after<br />

coming in to port to refuel. <strong>The</strong>ir ship was<br />

boarded by the Indian authorities and they<br />

were then subsiquently arrested over<br />

ludicrous arms charges. Despite the charges<br />

originally being dropped, they were<br />

eventually reinstated and the entire crew of<br />

35, was sentenced to 5 years in prison in<br />

January 2016. An appeal was lodged over<br />

130 days ago for the Indian government to<br />

reconsider the charges but still, there has<br />

been no answer from the Indian Judicial<br />

system.<br />

‘Hunger Strike’<br />

On Thursday last week, Billy Irving, Nick<br />

Simpson, John Armstrong and Estonian and<br />

Ukrainian nationals who were also wrongly<br />

jailed, began a three day hunger strike to<br />

protest their innocence and demand the<br />

Indian authorities reconsider the charges.<br />

<strong>The</strong> hunger strike ended on Sunday with all<br />

men being in good health. <strong>The</strong> British<br />

government has tried on no less than 54<br />

Chennai Six Protests Latest<br />

Two Soldiers Killed in Tank Accident<br />

US Shoots down Syrian Warplane<br />

Chennai Six Protests asks<br />

again for answers and Justice<br />

occasions to intervene including a recent visit<br />

to India where <strong>The</strong>resa May spoke directly to<br />

the Indian Prime Minister over the six. As yet,<br />

nothing has been done. <strong>The</strong> protests come<br />

amidst the political confusion over who<br />

should be running the country in Parliament<br />

following the recent election. Last month the<br />

closing of Parliament meant that all petitions<br />

put to the government were closed until the<br />

reformation of the new government. This<br />

action destroyed the growing petition that the<br />

Chennai Six had opened leaving the only<br />

option but to start again. However, the<br />

petition raised through change.org is still<br />

currently running with over 400,000<br />

signatures. If you would like to sign the<br />

petition please click on the link at the bottom<br />

of the page.<br />

‘Pressure’<br />

Last Wednesday, Lisa Dunn, the brother of<br />

Nick Dunn, one of the six, released a video<br />

on youtube explaining the situation. She<br />

highlighted the need to keep the pressure up<br />

on the British Government to, in turn, put<br />

pressure on the Indian Government to see<br />

sense and deliver the long awaited and<br />

overdue verdict on the case. Lisa, along with<br />

other family members have campaigned<br />

tirelessly for justice. <br />

<strong>The</strong> SBT Says...<br />

Enough is enough. <strong>The</strong>se guys are suffering<br />

terribly because of a very wrong miscarriage<br />

of Justice. British and Indian<br />

Governments, start doing the right thing<br />

and realise the damage that is being done<br />

to these brave lads and their families. It’s<br />

time to get this sorted out once and for all.<br />

<br />

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Hundreds of protesters<br />

turned out in London on<br />

Friday to demand the<br />

release of the Chennai Six.<br />

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www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 7 |

<strong>The</strong> Chennai Six,<br />

An operator’s view on the situation<br />

Former SAS Trooper, Security<br />

Operator, Best Selling Author and<br />

now Veterans Campainer ‘Big’ Phil<br />

Campion tells it how it is.<br />

Sometimes controversial but always<br />

honest and from the hip. Phil is a<br />

very welcome addition to the<br />

<strong>Sandbag</strong> <strong>Times</strong> Team<br />

Having spent six years at sea myself<br />

travelling through pirate infested<br />

waters, I can fully empathise with the<br />

lads being held in India and i’m disgusted at<br />

the Indian authorities for wrongly imprisoning<br />

the whole crew, at the company who have all<br />

but abandoned the men. At the lack of media<br />

support because it is not sexy enough to<br />

make the news in any real capacity. At the<br />

British government who are more interested in<br />

cutting deals related to BREXIT and handing<br />

over aid money to a country with a space<br />

programme. <strong>The</strong> irony of the fact that these<br />

men have protected Indian seamen incapable<br />

of defending themselves is beyond<br />

incomprehension. Even if the paperwork<br />

supporting the weapons was incorrect which<br />

it was not and if the company involved owed<br />

monies, so what. It has nothing to do with<br />

those who are now incarcerated. <strong>The</strong><br />

authorities have gone after the low hanging<br />

fruit and are no better than the pirates who<br />

plague the seas holding good men to ransom.<br />

Why not just keep the ship or the cargo if<br />

there is a problem? Why not confiscate the<br />

weapons? <strong>No</strong>, the corrupt Indian authorities<br />

have seen a potential bargaining chip. <strong>The</strong>ir<br />

reasoning is impaired by greed.<br />

<strong>The</strong> lads are surviving because those near<br />

and dear are keeping their hopes alive. Food<br />

parcels are delivered regularly to ensure that<br />

they are fed and watered. Left to languish,<br />

they would not even receive food and water. I<br />

have spoken to those who have visited the<br />

stricken operators and have heard of the<br />

unnecessary hardship. <strong>The</strong> beatings they<br />

have taken because the authorities are scared<br />

of them. <strong>The</strong> Embassy has made a token<br />

effort on their behalf but don't want to rock the<br />

boat. (<strong>No</strong> pun intended).<br />

What can we do? I personally will be pushing<br />

this out wherever i can. I have a little bit of<br />

notoriety and am known to a few – i will be<br />

spreading the word. I would hope that anyone<br />

who has any decency at all will help by raising<br />

awareness whenever possible.<br />

Eventually this will land on a desk that gives<br />

a damn and can help repatriate these lads<br />

who were just doing their job to provide for<br />

their families.<br />

Cheers all, Phil.<br />

| 8 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk

Have Your Say....<br />

Send your comments in to us here at the SBT. Comment about anything within the<br />

Magazine, Website, Radio, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. All we ask is to keep the<br />

comments relative to the topics and be respectful. That’s it. <strong>No</strong>w, fire away...<br />

Last weekend was the launch of our Chennai Six project. We invited readers to comment on<br />

the situation. Here’s some of your comments.<br />

<br />

<strong>The</strong> SBT posted...<br />

This month’s issue of the <strong>Sandbag</strong> <strong>Times</strong> will<br />

be highlighting the Chennai 6. Apart from<br />

reports on the peaceful protest and the<br />

recent hunger strike, we shall be looking at<br />

why they are still incarcerated and what is<br />

happening, legally, to get them back home.<br />

However, the SBT is asking for you to<br />

comment on the situation. I will free up a<br />

page (maybe 2) for all of your comments. If<br />

you feel passionately enough about this<br />

miscarriage of justice then please, please<br />

comment. I will then ensure this edition is<br />

stuck under the noses of everyone I possibly<br />

can. MP’s included. I know it will be nothing<br />

new to them but at least we can show that<br />

this is not going away, nor the people that are<br />

supporting them. Help us to keep it in the<br />

public. Have your say!!<br />

Gremlin replied...<br />

June 18, 2017 at 5:48 pm<br />

Too often we are distracted by the news of<br />

the day. Many news articles are written to sell<br />

today’s stories. Yesterdays headlines are too<br />

quickly forgotten. <strong>The</strong> lives of people in<br />

yesterdays news, do not change because<br />

“new” news is on the front page. I have read<br />

that 45 times this has been brought up the<br />

the Indian Government, that is hundreds of<br />

times too few. One life is too many to be<br />

forgotten, the 6 names here are just the tip of<br />

the story, family, friends & the whole country<br />

are also part of the tragedy. It is time to bring<br />

them home.<br />

Jane said...<br />

June 19, 2017 at 5:22 am<br />

<strong>The</strong> British government should hang their<br />

heads in shame for not intervening and<br />

bringing this situation to justice. <strong>The</strong> lives of<br />

these innocent men can not and must not be<br />

swept under the carpet. It’s a disgrace that<br />

these men are still behind bars. Wake up and<br />

o something to help them. <strong>The</strong>y are innocent<br />

men, wrongly accused of crimes they didn’t<br />

commit. It makes me feel ashamed to be<br />

British when the very people who can put this<br />

right wash their hands of it. Grow some balls<br />

politicians, look at all the evidence of injustice<br />

in this case, fight for these men. <strong>The</strong>y all gave<br />

years of their lives to the service of their<br />

country, give them back their lives that they<br />

had wrongly taken away from them.<br />

Jim said...<br />

June 19, 2017 at 10:16 am<br />

Sadly, there is an awful lot of bad news in the<br />

media, and folks “cherry pick” what they think<br />

are important issues. In the aftermath of the<br />

Al Blackman (Marine A) case, there have<br />

been a number of significant events that have<br />

grabbed the new headlines. Agreed, those<br />

with loss of life or endangerment will always<br />

take precedence BUT that does not mean<br />

there is nothing else going on in the world.<br />

This country sends a lot of money abroad,<br />

helping other countries overcome some of<br />

the “wrongs” they suffer. It just so happens<br />

that one of these countries….India get an<br />

awful lot of funding from our shores, and<br />

return the favour by encarcerating the very<br />

men that help to keep their waters safe. <strong>The</strong><br />

Chennai 6 are 6 ex mil chaps that are in a<br />

place they should not be….period. <strong>The</strong>y are<br />

not alone….30+ individuals from their ship<br />

are in the squalour of an Indian jail. Pressure<br />

needs to be brought to bear on those<br />

responsible for this travesty of justice.<br />

Witholding some of the funding would go<br />

some way to showing that we do not tolerate<br />

this sort of action, without repercussions. <strong>The</strong><br />

only way we will secure a result, is for the<br />

public, and the rest of the world to unite<br />

against this sort of barbaric activity.<br />

Claire said...<br />

June 19, 2017 at 3:10 pm<br />

It’s been far too long, innocent men left<br />

abandoned in a stinking hell hole. Wrong on<br />

every level.<br />

To post your comments couldn’t be easier.<br />

All you need do is visit one of our media<br />

platforms and type away....<br />

Website: www.sandbagtimes.co.uk<br />

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thesandbagtimes<br />

Twitter: twitter.com/thesandbagtimes<br />

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/sandbag-times-9442a011b/<br />

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 9 |

more than me, for the five years prior to this sad<br />

time she had kept us from falling apart and<br />

sinking. If it wasn't for her I would have given up<br />

way before I did. We had reached the point that<br />

I was affecting the children and everyone<br />

around me, my spine was worse than ever and<br />

so was my mental health. <strong>The</strong> situation at home<br />

had reached the point where Nikki had reached<br />

the ‘end of her tether’ and she asked me to<br />

leave the house and go to the hospital and get<br />

the help that I so desperately needed,<br />

physically and mentally. Nikki said that until I<br />

had some help and some respite care I couldn't<br />

come home. Some may think that this was cold<br />

hearted, but you have to understand what I was<br />

putting my family through, she had no choice.<br />

March 2016 a month and year that would change my life forever. I<br />

left the Royal Engineers in 2010 after ten years serving my country<br />

and doing like many had before me, which ever service they were in.<br />

I was forced to leave with serious life changing injuries and mental<br />

health scars that would affect me for the rest of my life. I was<br />

assured that on my Medical Discharge I would be rehoused and<br />

cared for and supported by the NHS, unfortunately this was not the<br />

case. I tried my best with several Mental Health services, they all<br />

stated the same – this is a military issue, we can't help you!<br />

During this time I was undergoing further<br />

surgeries, I wasn't coping and couldn't<br />

understand what was wrong with me and sadly<br />

neither could my family. I was never a user of<br />

social media, but if I was I would have realised<br />

that there is a lot of fantastic support out there,<br />

unfortunately I was deeply depressed and<br />

depression does funny things to people, I<br />

couldn't handle even talking about my career,<br />

let alone join a group like FVUK. In June 2015<br />

my physical and mental health took a turn for<br />

the wors. My PTSD was worse than ever. I was<br />

still desperate for help and I was still being<br />

ignored and passed from pillar to post, no one<br />

knowing quite what to do with me, my<br />

desperation grew, the pain consumed me bit by<br />

bit. My whole life felt like it was spiralling out of<br />

control, my family stayed by my side equally as<br />

desperate and concerned about my future.<br />

I've been with my wife for nearly 20 years, the<br />

summer of 2015 would test our love and<br />

strength like no other time before. She could<br />

see what was happening to me but felt<br />

powerless to do anything about it, she's the one<br />

that deals with my depression, anxiety and<br />

panic attacks. She's the one that constantly<br />

runs me about to health appointments and<br />

making sure that I have the right medication.<br />

She's the one that has to cope with my pain<br />

and side effects that all these pills give me, the<br />

angry outbursts that I constantly had, and then<br />

the depression and my horrible and nasty<br />

attitude afterwards. Blaming myself, and<br />

convinced I was a bad person that didn't<br />

deserve the love that she gave me. She dealt<br />

with the house, the children, the pets, the<br />

nightmares, flashbacks, the bills, she would<br />

pick me up off the floor when I fell during the<br />

night or day. Nikki is the one that has struggled<br />

Nikki assumed that the amount of money that is<br />

raised for military charities annually in this<br />

country that someone, somewhere could offer<br />

me two weeks respite, giving me the help I<br />

needed and the break that my family so<br />

desperately needed. Before I left my home I<br />

rang one of the major charities and they said<br />

that they were not able to offer me respite care<br />

because of my poor physical and mental state.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y were very concerned for my safety and<br />

had stated that I must attend hospital and insist<br />

on them finding me some treatment. As they felt<br />

that the hospital would try and discharge me<br />

immediately, thus putting me on the streets, I<br />

was advised to stay and insist on treatment as<br />

the NHS had ‘Duty of Care’ for my wellbeing.<br />

Bearing in mind that I was in a Designated<br />

Military Hospital. As predicted they tried to<br />

discharge me at 2 o'clock in the morning<br />

despite many desperate pleas for mental health<br />

help and the fact that I was homeless and<br />

danger to myself and others. I felt my whole<br />

world was falling apart, I was submissive and<br />

very emotional, I felt I was fighting for my life<br />

and my screams were still being ignored.<br />

Luckily a junior nurse fought my corner and<br />

prevented me from being discharged, I was<br />

allowed to stay until the morning. In the<br />

morning I rang my welfare officer again and he<br />

said " Do not let them discharge you because<br />

you will be homeless and very vulnerable”. I<br />

didn't want to cause anyone any problems, I<br />

hold the medical staff in high regard and have<br />

great respect for their work, but I had no choice<br />

but to follow my instructions as I felt no one<br />

else cared. As you can expect the news didn't<br />

go down very well and for that I'm truly sorry,<br />

but I was promised by the Army I would get<br />

priority treatment. So over the next few days a<br />

Mexican standoff happened, of everyone<br />

insisting that it was the responsibility of the NHS<br />

to care for me and them insisting it wasn't. A lot<br />

happened over those days. I was being ignored<br />

by the senior staff and they tried every trick in<br />

the book to trying and discharge me, even<br />

saying that I would be referred for a mental<br />

health appointment if I left. <strong>The</strong> problem was<br />

they were referring me to the very place that I<br />

had already been turned away from, they<br />

claimed they were trying their best but yet still<br />

hadn't referred me to anyone who could or were<br />

willing to help. In the end I tracked down my<br />

| 12 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk

own help despite my serious mental state, I was<br />

visited by a charity representative who said they<br />

have a veteran’s home that I could go to for two<br />

weeks. Thank God someone finally was able to<br />

help! My wife was over the moon and said I<br />

could return home to the family after my two<br />

weeks respite. So I filled out the paperwork and<br />

everything looked positive. I got to keep my<br />

bed over the weekend, I still hadn’t seen a<br />

physio or a mental health worker by this point<br />

despite the mental health ward being only<br />

upstairs. I was told the only way I could get<br />

access to this ward was to be arrested as the<br />

police are the only ones that have the power to<br />

authorise this? Really, are we at the stage<br />

where a British war veteran can only get<br />

immediate mental health help through the NHS,<br />

in one of the biggest military areas in the<br />

country, is by getting himself arrested! But I<br />

knew no different and clearly the medical staff<br />

are not trained or funded to know what to do<br />

with us veterans, at least in the Hampshire area<br />

it seemed.<br />

<strong>The</strong> weekend passed and on the Monday<br />

morning I looked at my legs did not feel right,<br />

they were swollen and discoloured and more<br />

painful than ever, I could hardly put any weight<br />

on them. I told a nurse about it and she said<br />

that she would come back to me. She never<br />

did. Lunch had just passed and I was<br />

summoned to the patients’ room, so I hobbled<br />

down on crutches and was met by the man<br />

from the charity and the ward sister. I sat down<br />

and knew it was bad news because the sister<br />

would not look up from the floor. <strong>The</strong> charity<br />

guy said " It's bad news”, because I had<br />

admitted to being verbally abusive to my wife in<br />

the past the respite home would not accept me<br />

due to having no security!!! At that I stopped<br />

him and asked the sister "Sister since I arrived<br />

here and despite the problems I have had, have<br />

I ever been rude or aggressive to anyone”? She<br />

replied, still looking at the floor, "<strong>No</strong>". At that<br />

point I got emotionally upset, so I got up left<br />

because I didn't want to lose my temper with<br />

him. I hobbled back to my bed after pulling<br />

myself together to find a welcoming committee!<br />

It would appear that they, the hospital staff and<br />

the charity guy, had colluded to get me away<br />

from my room so they could pack up my day<br />

sack and remove me from the hospital. I didn't<br />

argue or show any resistance, I just begged for<br />

help. When asking the female Doctor for my<br />

personal medication out of the locked bedside<br />

cabinet she said " Are you going to sign the<br />

discharge form “ ? I said "<strong>No</strong> because you are<br />

removing me against my will". I was denied<br />

access to my personal medication. I was put<br />

into a wheelchair chair, in my pyjamas, and<br />

wheeled out of the hospital by a military Cpl,<br />

who kept whispering to me that he was so sorry<br />

about what they were making him do. <strong>The</strong>y did<br />

not inform anyone of their actions, did not give<br />

me any bus fare or instruction, they just wanted<br />

rid of the problem, me. I was left at a bus stop,<br />

opposite the hospital, crying, in my pyjama<br />

bottoms, polo shirt and flip flops with a severe<br />

infection in my legs, which turned out to be<br />

cellulitis, in the middle of the day with members<br />

of the public just staring at me ...... That I will<br />

never forget or forgive.<br />

I was there for about 45 minutes, in an area that<br />

I have no friends or people that I could ask for<br />

help. <strong>The</strong>n by chance my wife called to see<br />

how I was, I explained what had happened she<br />

simply stated " I may not like you at times<br />

recently but I have always loved you, I thought<br />

they would have to help that's the only reason I<br />

asked you to leave”. She came and got me and<br />

took me home, and was horrified by the<br />

condition of my legs. Within 24 hours I was<br />

back in the same hospital on an antibiotic drip<br />

as the cellulitis was so bad, it took about two<br />

months to clear. A complaint was filed<br />

immediately on my behalf as I had a full mental<br />

break down, I felt worthless, I was in no fit state<br />

to look after myself and at times could hardly<br />

string a sentence together. In the next few<br />

months the hospital tried every avoidance<br />

method that they could employ, my medical<br />

notes had been lost, my drug chart had gone<br />

missing etc. <strong>The</strong>y exceeded all and every<br />

response time targets they promised and<br />

prolonged the whole process for as long as<br />

they could. <strong>The</strong> charity that said they would<br />

help whilst I was in hospital, denied everything<br />

even my existence. <strong>No</strong> one from the hospital<br />

would take responsibility for their actions. Yet<br />

again I felt abandoned and failed on every level,<br />

I have still not received a proper apology. Sadly<br />

just before Christmas 2015 I took a huge<br />

overdose feeling that to leave this world, was<br />

the only thing I could do to end this constant<br />

nightmare that I was putting my family through.<br />

In my mind at that time it was the greatest way<br />

to show my children and wife how much I loved<br />

them. I tell you this not for pity or sympathy. I<br />

tell you this because I want people in a similar<br />

position to realise they are not alone and there<br />

are others that have also felt this way.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w we are at March 2016, I was still incredibly<br />

low and my attacks were worse than ever! I still<br />

hadn't had the mental health appointment that I<br />

was promised and waited eight months for,<br />

when the appointment came and I was<br />

discharged after one session being told that this<br />

was a military issue and they could not help. I<br />

wished I had done the job properly when I tried<br />

to take my own life. I felt like it would only be a<br />

matter of time until I tried again. One day my<br />

wife walked in with an IPhone, I had never had<br />

a smart phone before and initially wasn't<br />

interested. Nikki was just trying to cheer me up<br />

and give me something positive to focus on, I<br />

had never been on Twitter before so I joined not<br />

knowing what it was!?<br />

That was the moment that changed my life for<br />

ever! I know looking back this may sound a<br />

little soft, my first ever tweet was "I've never felt<br />

so alone since I left the Army". To my<br />

amazement the phone pinged and someone<br />

had ‘followed’ me, then again and again. I fully<br />

admit that initially it was all about me and my<br />

problems. After a couple of weeks I soon<br />

realised it was not just me that struggles this<br />

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 13 |

way, there are many ‘Gary’s’ out there and<br />

some a lot worse off than I am. So I started to<br />

share my experiences and problems and I<br />

spoke to many about their issues and things<br />

that were holding them back. Soon I found<br />

myself loosely counselling Veterans and their<br />

families and the more I felt I was helping the<br />

more I felt I actually had a purpose in life. Every<br />

time I was thanked a little piece of the man I<br />

was came back to life. In the meantime follower<br />

after follower was starting to support me and<br />

the positive message I was trying to spread<br />

across Twitter. Seven weeks after I started on<br />

Twitter, I got an invitation to go to Westminster<br />

and speak to the Chair of the All Party<br />

Parliamentary Group for <strong>The</strong> Armed Forces<br />

Covenant about my experiences and the<br />

problems that veterans face in our community<br />

and the failings of the covenant. At first I<br />

thought it was a joke! But it was real, finally<br />

someone was willing to listen to my cries for<br />

help. It was a very constructive meeting and we<br />

are still in touch to this date. At this point I had<br />

five thousand followers on Twitter and it was<br />

this support that got me through each day, in<br />

August 2016 someone approached me and<br />

asked why FVUK wasn't on FaceBook? <strong>The</strong><br />

reason being I was still very ill and could just<br />

about cope with Twitter, also I hadn't used<br />

FaceBook in years and didn't understand it all.<br />

So they helped me start a group, then the<br />

group started to grow in the same fashion as<br />

Twitter. I soon had people asking me if they<br />

could donate, which I replied " I don't want<br />

people's money"! <strong>The</strong>y said "But why are you<br />

doing this then"? I simply stated that you don't<br />

need money to support people and show them<br />

you care and they are not alone.<br />

As the group has grown it has attracted some<br />

amazing people, all with their own passions and<br />

skills all wanting to help drive forward FVUK. All<br />

having the same morals and standards of<br />

wanting to do good with no reward to<br />

themselves. It took some time for me to initially<br />

realise what was<br />

needed, but as my<br />

experience grew my<br />

confidence and passion<br />

grew at an equal rate.<br />

For so long I had let my<br />

demons and health<br />

defeat me, but now I<br />

have started to except<br />

my disability and<br />

problems. I have finally<br />

come to the realisation<br />

that I have something<br />

positive and<br />

constructive to offer the<br />

world. I have made a<br />

few mistakes on route<br />

but they have been<br />

honest and with good<br />

intentions. What's<br />

important is I have<br />

learnt from them, and<br />

put into practice<br />

methods to stop them<br />

happening again. What are just as important<br />

are the people that I have chosen to help me,<br />

as I know my limitations! I have never hidden<br />

my flaws and like any good leader the council I<br />

have round me is paramount. I have some<br />

really experienced and honest, passionate<br />

people on our team and I wouldn't be able to<br />

function properly without them. My aim is to<br />

incorporate as many veterans or family<br />

members as I can, all bringing their own skills<br />

to the team, giving as many people as possible<br />

the same feeling of self-worth and belonging<br />

that I receive from FVUK. Sometimes people<br />

are just looking for a reason to get up in the<br />

morning, we all have our own reasons to want<br />

to produce something so positive.<br />

So here we are at the stage that trustees have<br />

been appointed and the Charity status<br />

application has been submitted to the Charity<br />

Commission. Our path is clear; we will step up<br />

and help whenever we can. We are the band<br />

aid to seal the wound until we can gateway<br />

them to the best possible agency. Whether it be<br />

a tent for the homeless or food vouchers for the<br />

families that are struggling to put food on the<br />

table, we will consider most things if<br />

desperately needed. We are aware that<br />

throwing money at the problem does not<br />

always fix the issue, that's why we gateway<br />

them to the correct place to try and solve the<br />

underlying problem that has got them to this<br />

stage in the first place. We believe that care<br />

doesn't stop at five o'clock, weekends and<br />

public holidays! Isn't it better they have<br />

someone instead of no one? We are also<br />

building a buddy scheme that will offer general<br />

support, information and comradeship from<br />

other veterans and associated family members.<br />

Quite often people just want to have a chat to<br />

break the isolation and loneliness, we use the<br />

power of Google to help source information<br />

local to the recipient. We are not qualified to<br />

give treatment, but we can direct them to<br />

reputable organisations and charities. As our<br />

charity grows we hope to expand our offers of<br />

assistance and grants, to train our volunteers so<br />

we can offer the best and safest service for all.<br />

Even if we immediately pass on a case to<br />

someone more suitable, if warranted, it is still a<br />

success in our eyes. What is important is the<br />

recipient not our ego's! We work tirelessly to<br />

build good relationships with other charities and<br />

organisations that share our ethos, and pride<br />

ourselves in offering help where ever possible<br />

to advertise functions and events and services<br />

of other organisations. For now I feel you have<br />

read enough! I hope this brings strength and<br />

courage to the forgotten to step forward and<br />

say that they are also struggling, and clarity to<br />

those who wanted to know more about who I<br />

am and who we are. <strong>The</strong> first step is always the<br />

hardest step admitting that you need help, I<br />

cannot change my past but I can change my<br />

future and hopefully that of others. To my team,<br />

my Trustees and most importantly my family,<br />

thank you for not giving up on me and believing<br />

in me. I owe you my life.<br />

Gary Weaving RE<br />

| 14 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk

<strong>The</strong> idea for Save Our Soldier came about because [Lee<br />

Hayward, the Founder of the charity] saw in newspaper<br />

headlines that suicides were occurring after combatants<br />

returned from war. It was unacceptable to see this frequently in<br />

the news, and to do nothing when something could be done.<br />

<strong>The</strong> problem is post traumatic stress, an injury triggered by<br />

exposure to extreme trauma. We call this condition PTSI, (Post<br />

Traumatic Stress Injury) but it is more commonly known as<br />

PTSD. Conversations with veterans led to research. <strong>The</strong> results<br />

highlighted a growing need for support of veterans, struggling to<br />

transition and reintegrate into ‘civvy street’, and for their families<br />

suffering from the legacy of combat. Lee knew with the right<br />

people, the number of acute cases could be reduced.<br />

Encouragement to become a charity came from <strong>The</strong> Medlock<br />

Charitable Trust, who provided initial funding to get the<br />

specialised emotional coaching for combatants started. <strong>The</strong><br />

charity was started in <strong>No</strong>v 2012, Save Our Soldier now has 20<br />

coaches from Scotland to Devon. <strong>The</strong> UK automotive industry<br />

is experiencing a significant shortage in personnel. <strong>The</strong> industry<br />

needs dedicated, mission-focused individuals, who like to work<br />

in teams, take pride in their work and maintain good standards.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y are required nationwide, for permanent roles with full<br />

training provided, where necessary. Many of these roles will also<br />

present opportunities for advancement. We wish to advise<br />

prominent Veteran’s support agencies about the diverse<br />

employment opportunities for those who have been out of the<br />

Services, perhaps for longer than two years, and are aged 18 to<br />

50 + . (Anyone contacting us within 2 years of discharge will<br />

also be reminded about the (CTP) Career Transition<br />

Partnership). Save Our Soldier cares for and helps, with<br />

coaching and emotional support for post-traumatic stress,<br />

individuals and their families who fall through the cracks in the<br />

statutory system. Experience has shown that the issue of finding<br />

satisfactory and appropriate work, and commonly the apparent<br />

lack of suitable openings, is a key issue for Veterans/ex-Service<br />

personnel. Moreover, it is often the central barrier to them<br />

reintegrating back into civilian society. Through our growing<br />

corporate connections, Save our Soldier is now firmly supported<br />

by and partnering with the automotive industry. Consequently,<br />

we are about to launch a job portal on our web site which will<br />

feature a vacancies board directly representing over 600 vehicle<br />

body repair shops across the country. (<strong>The</strong> job board is being<br />

provided by a car-repair organisation directly and this will<br />

involve no recruitment fees or any other fees). This type of work<br />

involves becoming an integral part of small teams of specialised<br />

operatives focused on a common goal; it represents a<br />

potentially rewarding environment for someone formerly trained<br />

to perform to high standards, with a similar ethos to the Forces<br />

and Emergency Services. It is well paid for those who learn the<br />

skills. Jobs range from receptionist and delivering customers'<br />

cars to all manner of vehicle body repair and finish coat<br />

spraying. Furthermore, opportunities can extend into the wider<br />

automotive industry, to areas like computing, sales and more.<br />

<br />

I have always helped charities when i can by way of donating<br />

money. But having a lot of friends in the military helping military<br />

charities has been more important to me. 5 yrs ago i met Dennis<br />

mason whose son was lost in Afghanistan at the time i was<br />

printing t-shirts and he wanted some shirts for a fun walk he was<br />

organising to raise funds for his sons memorial fund. We started<br />

talking about things he could do to raise funds and even came to<br />

my house till early hrs in the morning to help me make the shirts<br />

from that day he has been like a father to me and my family<br />

especially my children. We all went to help out on fundraisers<br />

and charity events to help Dennis. I then had a job opportunity<br />

that i had to take and this meant i could not help as much as i<br />

could. 1yr into the new job i met Paul Ballard who was an artist<br />

and a veteran ex royal artillery he knew about the help i gave<br />

Dennis and wanted to do something to help he showed me<br />

some of the artwork and it was amazing we talked about how or<br />

what we could do and decided to offer the artwork to military<br />

charities for them to sell to help them raise funds for them self we<br />

both put in £750 each to get the artwork put into production and i<br />

created the Facebook page and started inviting people which is<br />

when we met Karin Sowerby who is another amazing artist and<br />

wanted to help and later found out she was also a Veteran and<br />

then later her Sister Angie Sowerby another amazing artist and<br />

also a veteran. Dennis Mason from <strong>The</strong> Lance Corporal Nicky<br />

Mason Memorial Fund was the 1st to take artwork. And living on<br />

the old garrison in Colchester & Nicky being in the parachute<br />

regiment contacting Stephen Cooper from Support our Para’s<br />

was the next charity who gladly accepted the artwork. From<br />

there it went up hill with other charities. Julie Cooper from the<br />

Dons War Memorial Bar, Ian Proud of the Gateshead poppy<br />

Appeal, Paul Lomax the Great War Heritage Project, Ian Inglis the<br />

War Museum Scotland, Gary Wallace the RECCE group and<br />

Donna Louise Armstrong, Soldiers off <strong>The</strong> Street Scotland. I<br />

send them the artwork in the large limited edition 20x30 canvases<br />

for them to sell at no cost to them, each being sold for £75 they<br />

cost £25 each to produce with the stretcher bars and certificates<br />

which is deducted to produce a replacement then the charity<br />

takes 50% of the balance the other 50% produces another canvas<br />

or goes towards other items like postcards pads pens mugs<br />

clocks and other items i can think of to print the artwork on every<br />

penny that comes back goes into printing more items to offer the<br />

charities and any new charities. <strong>No</strong>t to mention the donations we<br />

have donated in the last year since starting this over 40 large<br />

canvases to many fundraisers charities and families.I also attend<br />

military some of the events and fundraisers to set out a display to<br />

sell the artwork to help them on the day. Seeing the response<br />

from the public and the help it gives the charities makes it more<br />

worthwhile.<br />

Richard Betts<br />

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 15|

Thinking of<br />

Advertising with us?<br />

Online reads since last issue<br />

(28 days) – 42,178<br />

Average ONLINE READERS<br />

per magazine – 7,879<br />

Monthly FACEBOOK<br />

IMPRESSIONS – 19,186,496<br />


– 10,480<br />


(28 days) – 4,716 listeners<br />

Twitter Impressions – 31,669<br />

LinkedIn Reach – 234,954<br />

| 16 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk

From the Pit to the Palace...<br />

This month has been very much of a roller coaster ride. <strong>The</strong>re<br />

has been so many positives in my life but also the hauntings of<br />

days past. Thankfully, these days, thanks to my own faith, I can<br />

pretty much talk myself around most problems that are thrown at<br />

me.<br />

When I look at others, I see struggles with very few answers.<br />

Sometimes it isn’t the fact that there are no answers, just the<br />

answers haven’t been seen yet. When we are in that position is<br />

very hard to maintain a positive attitude. My thoughts and<br />

prayers in this edition are very much with the Chennai Six and<br />

their families. What on earth can I possibly say to give comfort<br />

and reassurance to these very brave people going through such<br />

a difficult time? Well, there is one passage that I know of that<br />

can offer hope. This kind of dawned on me this Sunday when<br />

we were sat down having an afternoon of musicals. One of my<br />

favourites, and one I have also played in, is Joseph and the<br />

Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. Of course the play/musical is<br />

a dramatised production but the real story of Joseph can be<br />

found in Genesis.<br />

doing more than they know. We won’t know the true extent of<br />

their suffering and hardship because we are not there but we<br />

can be assured they are being guided. Just as Joseph when he<br />

was suffering.<br />

When we look at recent events, we can see the dtermination and<br />

strength, not only in the lads but the families that will stop at<br />

nothing to win the day. <strong>The</strong>y will win.<br />

We all know that life can be hard, it can pile pressure on like no<br />

tomorrow but all of these trials will make you stronger. That’s<br />

how it works. We’ve all heard the sayings, ‘What doesn’t beat<br />

you makes you stronger’ and God gives his hardest battles to<br />

his strongest soldiers’. When I look at the families and the lads<br />

in India, I see those two sayings. He knows you will all pull<br />

through regardless of what disappointments or victories may<br />

come, he know the lads can endure this, even though they think<br />

the opposite at times. He know the families will be their rock<br />

and will never stop fighting. He know that the fight will be won.<br />

In the mean time, whatever your faith, religion, denomination, I<br />

would like to ask you all to pray or think about the lads and their<br />

families. Give them strength to continue to fight with faith and<br />

hope, guide the authorities to see humanity and compassion<br />

and bring a swift end to this ongoing trial. Give them guidance<br />

to learn and to help others once this has ended. Amen.<br />

This has become one of my favourite chapters, not because of<br />

the musical story but because of the many lessons that we can<br />

take from it. <strong>The</strong> story originally talks of a boy that dreams<br />

many strange things, these dreams turn into foresights for the<br />

future. I don’t suggest for a moment that any of us will possess<br />

that gift but it does show that everything happens for a reason.<br />

If he didn’t get his dreams, he wouldn’t have been hated by his<br />

brothers, they wouldn’t have thrown him in the pit, he wouldn’t<br />

have been pulled out and sold as a slave, he wouldn’t have<br />

ended up in prison for something he hadn’t done (something<br />

familiar there), he wouldn’t have been in a position to help the<br />

Pharoah, he wouldn’t have saved millions from starvation and<br />

finally, wouldn’t have forgiven his brothers for a terrible crime<br />

and reunite his family.<br />

<br />

<br />

<strong>No</strong>w we don’t know what we have in store for us but I do know<br />

that the guys currently sat in that awful prison cell in India are<br />

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 17 |

Born Fearless: Check out our shop<br />

| 18 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk

Veterans Breakfast Clubs<br />

Armed Forces &<br />

Veterans breakfast Clubs<br />

www.afvbc.co.uk<br />

Website<br />

<strong>The</strong> VBC Website has now been revamped/redesigned and is now live.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re are several new features including a Post Code search facility that<br />

brings up the five nearest Breakfast Clubs to your Post Code, and we now<br />

have a News feature and links to the current issues of the <strong>Sandbag</strong> <strong>Times</strong><br />

and much more. To make it easier for people to get to it, funds have been<br />

made available to allow the acquisition of more domain names.<br />

<strong>The</strong> new address is www.afvbc.co.uk and the old address is pointed at the<br />

new site.<br />

<strong>The</strong> main alteration is that the email addresses have changed from:<br />

Support@VeteransBreakfastClubs.co.uk<br />

to<br />

Support@AFVBC.co.uk<br />

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 19 |

Worcester VBC<br />

many thanks to Nigel from<br />

the Woofers for this photo.<br />

42 on parade in the end,<br />

I’m gobsmacked and so<br />

proud of you all for turning<br />

up... It's the new armed<br />

forces family you were<br />

always craving for...<br />

Harwich VBC<br />

Breakfast today in Harwich.<br />

More members every meet<br />

Macclesfield VBC<br />

Amazing turnout today for<br />

the Macclesfield launch.<br />

We think we had numbers<br />

of 75-80 but yet to be<br />

confirmed – Look forward<br />

to the next one!<br />

| 20 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk

Veterans Breakfast Clubs<br />

Hastings/Bexhill VBC<br />

12 attending at <strong>The</strong> Custom Cafe.<br />

Sadly the service on the day was<br />

not what was expected, with<br />

peeps waiting well over an hour<br />

for their food to arrive. With the<br />

cafe only being fully open for a<br />

few weeks, new staff and also<br />

with it being fathers day<br />

yesterday perhaps it was just<br />

'one of those days'.<br />

GrimsbyVBC<br />

<strong>No</strong>t many turned up<br />

today at GVBC but still<br />

had a great morning, the<br />

place is gradually being<br />

decorated with corp flags<br />

and it looks brilliant x<br />

Shrewsbury AFVBC<br />

A fabulous forty of us at<br />

Shrewsbury AFVBC today,<br />

and our new AFVBC Flag<br />

made it's debut.<br />

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 21 |

Aww... C’mon let be back in,<br />

it didn’t smell that bad!!!<br />

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| 22 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk

Born Fearless<br />

Phil Campion<br />

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<br />

<strong>The</strong> Veterans’ Magazine<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> 31 | June 2017<br />

RAF Cosford<br />

Air Show<br />

<strong>The</strong> annual West Midlands air show<br />

is upon us once more. <strong>The</strong> SBT<br />

looks at this year’s line-up<br />

10 Years on...<br />

Eggs, Bangers,<br />

Bacon & Banter<br />

from the man<br />

who started it all<br />

Latest News<br />

Plus all the National<br />

and International<br />

Veterans and Armed<br />

Forces News<br />

Flying for SSAFA<br />

World record attempt to<br />

raise funds for veterans<br />


www.sandbagtimes.co.uk<br />

Supporting #Chennai6<br />

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 23|

Hi Folks, welcome to <strong>Sandbag</strong> <strong>Times</strong> Radio :)<br />

For those that have been following the progress of the magazine<br />

and Radio Station, you will have seen and heard some<br />

significant changes to both the magazine, and the station.<br />

We are still very busy championing the plight of the Chennai<br />

6, both in print, and on air. This weekend 24/25 June, the<br />

whole team is attending a function in Worcester on behalf of<br />

the lads who are the "Chennai 6". SBT Radio will be "Live" at<br />

the New Inn in Claines, Worcester, supporting Pablo and Jane<br />

with providing entertainment, and trying to empty the pockets<br />

of those attending in order to raise funds in support of this<br />

effort to free the lads. <strong>The</strong> Chennai team are expected to be<br />

in attendance, and a BBQ and musical entertainment<br />

throughout the 2 days is planned.<br />

We still need your support folks. <strong>The</strong> main aim of the Radio<br />

Station is to provide news and information, as well as music<br />

and entertainment for our veterans and military. We would<br />

like to focus more on the Veterans and Military side of things<br />

during our live broadcasts, and not just be on air to fill the airwaves.<br />

If you would like to get involved in any way, please<br />

drop me a line at jim@sandbagtimes.com. I am always on<br />

the lookout for new presenters, to bring some diversity, variety,<br />

originality and character to the station. You do not need<br />

to be a pro, or have any broadcasting experience. Everyone<br />

has to start somewhere. We have the knowledge and experience<br />

to set you up, and all we ask of you is to be yourself,<br />

and have our Military family at heart when you broadcast.<br />

Those of you that watch "Big Phil"Campion, both on Sky's<br />

"Big Phils War, and more recently on his You Tube blog<br />

SOFREP.COM each evening at 2100 hrs, you will be pleased<br />

to learn that Phil will be writing regularly in the magazine, and<br />

doing some Q&A on air when we can schedule him in.<br />

Thanks to Pablo for cornering Phil and "persuading" him.<br />

Over the next few weeks, the station will be trialling a few new<br />

broadcast methods that you may find interesting. Picture<br />

this...... you have a party organised, or a BBQ or whatever,<br />

and need to organise some musical entertainment. What<br />

about your own personal DJ! I don't mean one that rocks up<br />

at your door and sets up a studio in your front room. What I<br />

am referring to is a bespoke service whereby you let me<br />

know in advance of the people attending your party/function<br />

beforehand.... preferably a week or two before the event. You<br />

give me the names, their musical tastes, and anything else<br />

about them you wish to disclose, and leave the rest to us :)<br />

On the day/night of the function, all you will need to do is log<br />

in to your favourite Internet radio station......Yes, thats US!.....<br />

turn your music up, and then go about your business. We<br />

will provide your music for the function, intertwined with comments<br />

and chat from your DJ, who will take requests etc.<br />

This is a new dimension to the station, and we are excited to<br />

see how this pans out.... but we need your input to see if it a<br />

viable proposition. Let me know your thoughts, and any suggestions/feedback<br />

in order that we can make it a really enjoyable<br />

experience for both you and your guests. I will be talking<br />

this over with he team over the next couple of weeks to<br />

iron out any snags.<br />

We understand that when the sun is shining (and it's been<br />

doing that a lot recently), the last thing folks want to be doing<br />

is sitting in front of their PC/Laptop etc listening to the radio...<br />

but just remember, you can add the URL (web address) to<br />

your tablet and smart phone, and take us wherever you go so<br />

that you don't miss a beat. <strong>The</strong> link you need is<br />

http://www.sandbagtimes.co.uk/sandbag-times-radio-show/.<br />

It is hoped that an app will be available soon to make this a<br />

simple connection.<br />

Right folks, that's about it for now. Time to get organised and<br />

make some preparations for the upcoming weekend in<br />

Worcester. If you are in the are, be sure to come and meet<br />

the team at the New Inn, Claines, Worcester, WR3 7DH<br />

(http://www.newinnpubworcester.co.uk/) and see us "LIVE".<br />

Thanks as always for your continued support folks. We enjoy<br />

what we do, and hope you do too. Until next month, stay<br />

safe, and if you are out in the sun...... get yer slapscreen on!<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

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| 24 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk


AIR DAY<br />


SATURDAY 8 JULY 2017<br />

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BOOK NOW at royalnavy.mod.uk/yeovilton-airday

Ann Iverson is the author<br />

of four poetry collections.<br />

Her poems have<br />

appeared in a wide<br />

variety of journals and<br />

venues including Writer’s<br />

Almanac with Garrison<br />

Keillor. Her art work has<br />

been featured in several<br />

art exhibits as well as in<br />

a permanent installation<br />

at the University of<br />

Minnesota Amplatz<br />

Children’s Hospital.<br />

Her collection Art<br />

Lessons was selected to<br />

be in the Vincent Van<br />

Gogh Library the<br />

Netherlands. She<br />

recently wrote and<br />

illustrated her first<br />

children’s story which<br />

was published in 2016.<br />

Her writing and art can<br />

be viewed at<br />

anniverson.weebly.com.<br />

Ann feels fortunate that<br />

she has been given<br />

these gifts as a path<br />

through life – its losses<br />

and its loves.<br />

My step son, Randy Iverson, Jr.<br />

enlisted in the United States Army in<br />

2001 and in 2002 he was deployed to<br />

Iraq. He was trained as a Military Police<br />

Officer – Canine Unit and with a huge sense<br />

of patriotism and pride, he served his country<br />

in extreme conditions for over nine years.<br />

<strong>The</strong> years that Randy spent in harm’s way<br />

were beyond difficult, most certainly for him,<br />

but also for his father and me. <strong>The</strong>re is only<br />

so much one can do to keep your mind from<br />

going down the dreaded path of what could<br />

happen. I found that to document the<br />

experience through the lens of my poet’s eye,<br />

I was able to find new roads to travel that lead<br />

to a sense of healing – I think for all of us.<br />

Over the years I have published four<br />

collections of poetry, three of them contain<br />

war poems with Definite Space being<br />

predominantly about Randy’s three<br />

deployments. As our family continues to heal,<br />

I have relied on writing to sustain me and to<br />

help me find a way to make sense of the loss<br />

and the pain. If my words can lend meaning<br />

to a time that just seems inexplicable, then<br />

they have served their purpose.<br />

Experiences such as war that burrow so<br />

deeply inside, need to find a way to the light.<br />

For me, just when I think I am done writing<br />

about the war, another poem taps and I<br />

gladly open the door. I think that if you can<br />

put some pain on paper, it lessens the heart’s<br />

load - after all words and thoughts have<br />

weight. As a poet, if I did not transcribe the<br />

poems that come to me, then I would not be<br />

myself. Tampering with this arrangement is<br />

dangerous. Long ago, I made a bargain with<br />

the worlds of my life; if I made them poems,<br />

they promised me meaning.<br />

I have always encouraged my step son to<br />

find artistic ways to aid the healing process.<br />

He has done some of this. One of the photos<br />

included is an interesting drawing he did that<br />

renders the war from his dog’s view. It is<br />

fascinating that the soldier himself is mostly<br />

absent in the image, but the dog is forefront,<br />

alert to all before him. <strong>The</strong>re is a certain<br />

sense of mystery to this piece and I hope that<br />

he continues to think about ways to tell his<br />

story – as time and the heart allows.<br />

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| 26 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk

From definite space<br />

When a Son Goes Off to War<br />

I walk out into the world alone at dusk<br />

watch blackbirds with no strategic plan,<br />

mission, or vision gather in the naked<br />

tree.<br />

Hundreds of them fly in for this<br />

impromptu session,<br />

where they put their wings together and<br />

form<br />

an ark of shadow, a coalition between<br />

light and dark,<br />

while from branches, decisions scatter<br />

in the air.<br />

Filled with privilege like never before,<br />

I open myself to the visual world<br />

where doctrine and creed do not matter<br />

so even God finds himself amongst<br />

their turning eyes looking West,<br />

knowing everything we long to know<br />

about how light ends<br />

and darkness has its way.<br />

From art lessons<br />

Walter Reed Army Medical facility<br />

December, 2009 for RJ<br />

Early morning, I gather soft murmurs on<br />

the hotel shuttle:<br />

<strong>The</strong> first surgery nicked his colon, ten<br />

more after that<br />

His dad left on Saturday<br />

Mom leaves on Sunday<br />

A sister leaves Wednesday<br />

An aunt arrives on Thursday<br />

Inside every heart, there’s a painting, one of oil never drying.<br />

Inside these walls are portraits of life impossible to render.<br />

One canvas offers:<br />

an Army Champlain around a make-shift altar in the jungle;<br />

one chopper hovers overhead.<br />

<strong>The</strong> soldiers’ hands are folded, heads bowed.<br />

If there is a silence beyond silence, here it is.<br />

As though on skateboards,<br />

legless boys cruise the grounds on electronic devices.<br />

Sisters and mothers chase them.<br />

Someone tries to tell me the left leg is target,<br />

key seat in the hummer, but I see the right gone too.<br />

I see the middle of nowhere.<br />

I see the nothingness.<br />

I digest the cost for freedom.<br />

<strong>The</strong>se days the wound is left open until signs of infection are gone.<br />

I wish you could cut the heart open, mend it<br />

then let it drain and dry for days in the sun.<br />

Second canvas provides: a priest washing a soldier’s feet.<br />

Some days, I think there is nothing holy left.<br />

But if there is a holy beyond holy, I’ll take it in.<br />

We lie on soft mats with soldiers in meditation.<br />

She tells us to forget about ourselves,<br />

introduces us to each part of our being.<br />

I whispered to myself no more war poems. I told myself that.<br />

Three a.m. First Call from Baghdad<br />

Like screaming maniacs,<br />

we plummet<br />

down the flight of stairs<br />

could have easily broken<br />

all our legs.<br />

<strong>The</strong> sharp pierce<br />

of the ring’s limited life<br />

find the phone<br />

find the phone<br />

where the fuck is the phone<br />

here it is<br />

here it is<br />

then<br />

your voice so sane.<br />

War poem<br />

Since we came to this field with pain<br />

is this the path where love should end?<br />

As wild lupine diminish<br />

and secrets of the garden unfold.<br />

What is told is mostly sorrow.<br />

We filled this prairie with so much sorrow.<br />

We took our hands<br />

and threw grief to the wild.<br />

It took it for a while, but then the deer<br />

who once came, left for good.<br />

<strong>The</strong>ir sudden darting disappeared.<br />

Even the bunnies are now just clay<br />

a statuary of their lives<br />

before we entered.<br />

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 27 |

<strong>The</strong> Veterans’ Magazine<br />

<strong>The</strong> War Poppy Collection<br />

Jacqueline Hurley talks to the SBT<br />

about her stunning works of art<br />

100 Years of Vera<br />


<br />

As Dame Vera Lynn celebrates<br />

her 100th Birthday we look back<br />

at her incredible story<br />

Osteopath<br />

<strong>The</strong> SBT News<br />

This week’s latest national<br />

and international news<br />

from the world of Veterans<br />

and Armed Forces<br />

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<strong>Issue</strong> 29 | March 2017<br />

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Ken Brooks<br />

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