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A Land Fit For Heroes? The Treatment Of WWI Veterans In Great Britain

a land fit for heroes the treatment of world war one veterans in great britain they were the pride of their nation when world war one started masses of young britons many barely legally eligible to enlist responded to the call of their country to fight the war many of them who were too young to fight boys as young as 16 or 17 years old lied about their age as they didn’t want to stay in the safety of their homes they wanted to take part in the war and serve their country many didn’t know the reasons why the war had started the king called them to arms and they were willing to serve such was the state of mind of the whole nation who else would fight if not these brave individuals they truly were national heroes and they were sent off to war with chants and praise [Music] the romantic image of war changed the instant they arrived at the front line it was nothing like they had imagined during the next four years they would give up every part of their youth to serve and makeshift trenches in a country that was not even their own far from their homes they endured a savage war where violence and death were part of everyday life death lurked around every corner snipers artillery shells and poison gas the gruesome deaths they saw on a daily basis would haunt them for the rest of their lives at some point one would stop fearing for their life because they knew that death was sure to come for them it made no difference how or when it happened in those four years of war these young men matured beyond their years to live and fight in such conditions left great scars on their souls and minds those that survived and returned home would never be the same again but their expectation was that life would be normal once they came back to their home and family they were wrong being a first world war veteran in your early twenties was a burden by itself returning to normal life from the experience of the muddy trenches in france was very difficult ex-servicemen were met with little empathy civilians who had spent the war on the safety of british cities and towns just couldn’t comprehend what their soldiers had gone through families and friends couldn’t understand what veterans had seen and experienced but one thing they didn’t expect was the rejection that they would face in a situation of mass unemployment there were no jobs for veterans those who left everything when their country called upon them now faced a new battle trying to find employment some employers even actively avoided hiring ex-servicemen and businesses had signed saying no ex-servicemen need apply returning to their pre-war lives with proper jobs that would allow them to feed their families was a long and difficult process the government pressured by the increasing number of jobless veterans failed to respond to their demands and provide adequate pensions and employment veterans felt resentment towards their government in response to this organizations were formed to help them find their way back to civilian life in 1921 the four largest veterans organizations united into the british legion service not self was their motto it was much more difficult for disabled veterans almost one million british soldiers died in the great war but twice as many came home with some level of disability of these veterans 750 000 were permanently disabled and 40 000 were amputees some soldiers came home without both their legs or arms or were blind deaf with their faces disfigured or their lungs were destroyed by poison gas thousands suffered from shell shock a psychological condition known today as ptsd post-traumatic stress disorder unlike their comrades who were jobless but able to work disabled veterans were denied the possibility to return to the jobs they had when they left to join the war their attention therefore turned to the government the same one that sent them to the battlefields where they had lost their limbs as heroes they deserved care and comfort but all hope was futile the government did provide disability pensions for all veterans depending on the level of their disability but this was far from enough to have a decent living far from what they would have had with a proper job the government claimed that they could do nothing more in their responsibility for disabled servicemen the whole effort of finding jobs for them and their reintegration into society was transferred to patriotic well-doers in such a situation a number of movements organizations and individuals put together courses and training programs for veterans to learn new skills that could help them find new jobs they organized charities helped ex-servicemen in every possible manner and showed them that they were people who appreciated their sacrifice it wasn’t easy for battle-hardened veterans to live on charity but the government left them no choice of all the major belligerent european states only great britain relied on voluntary efforts to employ disabled ex-servicemen at the time an image of a limbless veteran begging on the streets was a common sight not just in great britain but across europe soldiers who fought against each other in the war shared the same fate however only in great britain were unsatisfied veterans restrained from turning their anger into violence in germany where they also had a large population of disabled veterans riots and uprisings were frequent occurrences in france veterans organizations were often involved in various political pressures on the government and therefore had a greater impact on the state’s policy towards them british veterans of the first world war had trusted their nation when the war had started in 1914 but after 1918 it seemed like the promise of a land fit for heroes was not a reality as remembrance day and veterans day comes up because of covert 19 collectors are unable to do face-to-face collections we want to encourage people around the world to donate to their country’s veterans charities you
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZ-OgzIRG9c

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