Three hundred miles off the Argentina coast in the South Atlantic lay the Falkland Islands, also known to the Argentines as Islas Malvinas. It consists of two main islands, East and West Falklands which lie 300 miles east of the Argentina coast. There are about 200 smaller islands that form a total land area of approximately 4,700 square miles. The only town and capital is Port Stanley.
The English navigator John Davis may have been the first person to sight the Falklands. However, the Argentine version states that “Spanish seamen” were the first without giving further details. Some also say that Ferdinand Magellan was the first to see the islands on his voyage around the world. Another claim is based on one of Magellan’s ships deserting the expedition and going back to Spain. While it is true that there was such a ship, there are no original documents to prove the actual sighting of the islands.
The government of the Falkland Islands administers the British dependent territories of South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands, and the Shag and Clerke rocks, lying from 700 to 2,000 miles (1,100 to 3,200 km) to the east and southeast of the Falklands.
Argentina has claimed the islands since the early 19th century. Britain had occupied and administered the islands since 1833 and had consistently rejected Argentina’s claims. Just like any other conflicts in our world history, claiming and ruling a certain territory initiated war between the Argentines and the British forces. Ownership of the islands has always been a hotly contested issue between the two governments. On April 2nd of 1982, the war began, with thousands of Argentine troops landing on the Falklands.
The British captured about 10,000 Argentine prisoners, all of whom were afterward released. Argentina’s defeat severely discredited the military government and led to the restoration of civilian rule in that country in 1983.
After more than 20 years, a shocking revelation unfolds. Research claims that a high number of veterans have taken their own lives since the South Atlantic conflict ended, both from the Argentine and the British troops. The suicide figure was almost half of the number of soldiers who died during the conflict.
There were also allegations that the people in command of the military forces of both countries tried to ignore the issue of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which leaves many sufferers emotionally scarred and unable to work. Some veterans have claimed that their condition was not diagnosed or treated while they were still serving. They added that they were never warned about the effects on their enlistment or discharge from the forces. They were also not given any presentations or debriefings to prepare them for possible effects.
PTSD, is among only a few mental disorders that are triggered by a disturbing outside event, like war. The traumatic event causes a cascade of psychological and biological changes. Wars throughout the ages often triggered what some people called “shell shock,” in which returning soldiers were unable to adapt to life after war. Although each successive war brings about renewed attention on this syndrome, it wasn’t until the Vietnam War that PTSD was first identified and given this name.
There seems to be a general pattern for war veterans suffering PTSD. They experience recurring nightmares and flashbacks followed by a recourse to heavy drinking or drugs then crime. A lot of war veterans ended up in prison often for violence and some of them killed themselves in their cells. While many veterans have been suffering from PTSD, others have simply been unable to cope with the reality of life outside the forces. Many have become caught up in alcoholism, drug abuse, homelessness, depression, and relationship break-up. PTSD have indeed turned these war veterans towards the path of self-destruction.
Today, mental health providers such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and other health care professionals can attempt to understand people’s response to these traumatic events and help them recover from the impact of the trauma.
The Falklands Conflict was one of the few major naval campaigns to have occurred since the end of the Second World War. As such, the conflict illustrated the vulnerability of surface ships to anti-ship missiles and reaffirmed the effectiveness of aircraft in naval warfare. However, the Falklands War also illustrated the vulnerability of people, especially of the war veterans. Even if the war has ended, it has left an imprint that will forever be within their lives.
The Falklands war cost England 255 men, six ships, and more than 1.6 billion pounds. The war lasted 74 days, with 649 Argentine soldiers, sailors, and airmen, and three civilian Falklanders killed. The Falklands campaign was considered a great victory for United Kingdom. The British may have overpowered the Argentines, but both of them suffered the consequences of the atrocity of war and continuously agonizing from it.