On the occasion of the INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023 presented by Boeing, the Warrior Care Conference, an international military congress, prepared proposals for wounded servicemen and women.
Under the motto “Breaking down Barriers – The Way back to life”, 250 military experts from a variety of disciplines debated over two days ways of rehabilitating and reintegrating wounded servicemen and women. The fields of medicine, psychology and pastoral care were represented. Participants from Australia, Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Great Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Ukraine and the United States exchanged a wealth of experiences.
Kindly moderated by Brigadier General (MC) Dr Ralf Hoffmann, five working groups presented their results in plenary, which debated the proposals presented in a critical and comradely manner. Strengthening resilience and wellbeing, reintegration, rehabilitation and recovery, social and financial security, medical care of wounded servicemen and women in modern warfare, also with a view to the Ukraine war, were all discussed.
Colonel (MC) Prof. Dr Peter Zimmermann used a holistic approach and referred to the importance of the personal values for resilience. However, physical factors such as training and the way of living play a role for the reintegration into professional life. Experts agreed that family and friends, as well as a stable and social environment play a prominent part in resilience and the recovery process. A contributor introduced the current experience with the Ukraine war and the treatment of the many wounded in the discussion.
Major (MC) Dr Andreas Lison appealed to all participants to make a “Düsseldorf Declaration”, to raise public awareness of the interests of the wounded servicemen and woman and to seek political support.
Dr Dorothea Dix, Branch Head in the Federal Ministry of Defence, emphasised the importance of the social and financial security for the veterans, who partly suffer from their injury for their whole life. Military Dean Prof. Dr Kerstin Lammer highlighted the importance of trust, of the presence in the forces and of communication for an effective moral, spiritual and pastoral support.
Brigadier General (MC) Dr Jörg Ahrens was clearly proud of the congress he organised. He quite deliberately planned to hold the conference in the run-up to the Invictus Games to use public perception and focus it on wounded and sick servicemen and woman. “In 90 percent of the cases, they are also injured psychologically”. According to Ahrens, the Ukraine war claims more and more victims among soldiers, who we also have to care about. Ahrens wants to forward the findings of the conference to the Surgeon General of the Bundeswehr and to the Committee of Chiefs of Military Medical Services in NATO (COMEDS). The high-ranking medical body is subordinate to the NATO Military Committee and could therefore implement concrete improvements and facilitations not only at national but also at NATO level.
Ahrens wants to forward the findings of the conference to the Surgeon General of the Bundeswehr and to the Committee of Chiefs of Military Medical Services in NATO (COMEDS). The high-ranking medical body is subordinate to the NATO Military Committee and could therefore implement concrete improvements and facilitations not only at national but also at NATO level.
Author: Sönke Willms-Heyng
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