Easy to read document here: Belastningsreaktioner blandt vaernepligtige or double-click on images below. English summary and conclusion at the end.
“Belastningsreaktioner under indkaldelse
Dr Knud-Erik Fredfeldt, Dr Alex Heick, Dr Henrik Nording and Dr Gorm Odden Petersen
Ugeskrift for Læger 44/20 17 May 1982”
Stress/psychological reactions by conscripted soldier in the Danish army. (Danish Medical Weekly)
The researcher’s own English summary: “Each year about 12,000 Danish men are called up for national service. 2-3% of these are discharged on psychiatric grounds. These represent a minor proportion of the true amount of psychiatric problems. The literature supports this. An investigation of 187 conscripts was made at the end of their service by means of a questionnaire. This showed that, among healthy young men with widely different social and educational backgrounds, considerable amounts of psychiatric, psychosomatic and alcohol-related problems arouse during military service.”
According to the research, this meant damage to the soldiers’ private relationships (with partners and wives), it meant a substantial increase in psychosomatic symptoms and it meant that use of substances such as haschisch, alcohol and tobacco increased dramatically among the affected – all starting with their military training. Important to remember, this was seen in the whole group of soldiers, not only in the small group that had suffered mental break downs and had been admitted for psychiatric treatment. Conclusion: also a large number of those who did not (openly) break down mentally suffered from the same sort of symptoms and damages to their mental well-being as those who did, all as a result of their time in the armed forces.
Summary of what the research concludes: out of those who lived with a partner, two out of three stated that the service had affected the stability of their relationship in a negative way. (here it is important to remember the numerous examples of domestic violence which have been registered and to remember them when looking at the researchers’ results below)
61% of all recruits in the study said that they at the end of their nine months training suffered from excessive irritability. More than half suffered from irascibility and from headache. One out of three of these young men now claimed to suffer from heart palpitations (!) and from stomach pain and nausea (one out of ten frequently vomited). One in five had problems with loose stool, frequent bowel movements and an endless need to pass urine – resulting in a severely damaged quality of life. Remarkably, six percent of these young people who had just left the army suffered from a feeling that they “were being suffocated”!
As we know, a soldier cannot beat up his sergeant and/or colonel, but, and this is well known, built up aggression will find its way out (unless it leads to depression, self-hate and ultimately suicide). This is where the girlfriend or wife can be in danger; this is where state sanctioned training leads to domestic violence. Of the soldiers leaving Danish military establishments this particular year 53% felt they could “smash it all”. And, more than one out of ten admitted to “have done so” – had already lost control. Close to half of these young men claimed after leaving the military that they felt depressed to a grade that it affected their daily life and work and 43% felt that “everything was meaningless”. One out of ten suffered from nightly attacks of anxiety and 8% stated they now had nervous ‘tics’.
When it came to alcohol, almost seven out of them claimed a clearly increased consumption and the same was the case for smokers and users of cannabis.
The researches conclude that, according to foreign research, a large number of young people suffer mentally during military service. They conclude that this research proves that the same goes for men who serve in the Danish armed forces.
My conclusion: as we will see, many of these young men were conscripted against their own will into the military establishment. But, as the group also includes a large number of volunteers (the Danish military did not need all available young men at the time, so if somebody volunteered other did not have to serve), the findings are relevant also for “volunteer” armed forces. As we can see, if we also look at other research, especially vulnerable young people with insecure background will be exposed to severe risks to their mental well-being if serving in the army – no matter if conscripted or having signed up because of unemployment or due to other reasons. These young people need to be protected from military abuse at any cost. For me it is irrelevant if they are Danish, German, Japanese or something else. The cost for a ruined life is too high, both for the individual and for society, to be ignored. The above research is some years old, but there is no reason to dismiss it on that ground. Unfortunately, not much has changed.
This letter is also some years old. It is part of a short exchange of letters between myself and the Danish politician Anders Fogh Rasmussen – later Prime Minister and General Secretary of NATO. In this letter, written only a few years after the demise of the Warsaw Pact, Anders Fogh states that fundamental indisputable rights of individual freedom has to give way for the state’s right to defend itself against foreign aggression (i.e. the defunct Warsaw Pact). I think it is time for Anders Fogh’s comrades in the Liberal Party now twenty years later to acknowledge that the time for Napoleon style mass armies is over and that the basic liberal views of individual freedom expressed by Anders Fogh in this letter and elsewhere must be introduced fully in society. The discrimination and abuse of young men must be brought to a full stop. Denmark, a small country surrounded by friendly nations and under absolutely no threat, has, apart from virtually a handful of bullets fired against the invading Nazi Wehrmacht, not been fighting a war since 1864 (against Bismarck and Prussia) – one hundred and fifty years ago. As the anniversary of that slaughter is coming up this year, it is now time to hurry up. With that history, what a shame to end up as one of the very few (all small) nations in Europe which still hang on to the discriminating and shameful principles of forced labour (under conditions as described above) dressed up as ‘defence’ for half of their young generations – not least because one of the others being Austria, the very nation which conscripted army made it possible for them to initiate the First World War that led to a whole century of hot and cold wars, destruction and mass killings.
Danish Parliament (Folketinget): Introduce Anders Fogh’s and his Liberal party’s principles of individual freedom now, abolish conscription, introduce true gender equality. It is long overdue. Thereafter, if you still need an army, treat those who sign up for military training with the respect they deserve. The time of abusive ‘training’ methods must be over.