Open Letter: Congratulations General But Stop Silent KDF Soldier Killer

Open Letter: Congratulations General But Stop Silent KDF Soldier Killer

A sense of BETRAYAL, and disconnect of our leaders with the plight of workers is festering - & refuses to go away. Kenya Defence Force NOW exposed

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A sense of BETRAYAL, and disconnect of our leaders with the plight of workers is festering – & refuses to go away. Kenya Defence Force NOW exposed … unless we act. 

#KdfSoldiersWelfare

Dear General Samson Mwathethe,

I wish to congratulate you on the extension of your term as Chief of Defence Forces [CDF] for another year.

More importantly: something inside keeps ringing the bell, that perhaps, you may want to utilize the next one year to fortify your legacy.  You might, want to build on whatever excitement was triggered by the extension of your term, and look into the welfare and training of your troops. Especially those suffering from “psychological war wounds.”

Its building on this spirit, that I wish to burden you with some thoughts, recognizing that an additional year isn’t a long time. Coming as it does, after your four year term expired recently.

The situation, I bring to your attention here, must gnaw our collective conscience, and crystallize those human values which ~ prods us to act ~ because that is how the world gets better.  A concern which involves some Kenya Defence Force [#KDF] soldiers in Somalia, and others who continue to return – with “psychological war wounds.”

I’d be failing, in my responsibility as a citizen, if I didn’t also share with you the current sense of betrayal with those entrusted to look out [and resolve] the plight of Kenyans.  A feeling, which appears to be festering  as it permeates daily conversation among Kenyans in all walks of life. This reality was clearly demonstrated in the recent #2019MayDay celebrations-ke, which kicked up an uproar over the failure by those at the helm of the labour movement in this country to sound up grim developments affecting Kenyan workers.  This situation,  will not go away, unless we act.

How does this involve you? Knowing  Atwoli / COTU mandate does not extend to the uniformed forces.

Well, I believe, even a passing mention of the debilitating and life threatening concerns, that may be affecting the Kenya Defence Forces would have been good enough to highlight it! The silence is killing and disabling some of your troops. A silence which, perhaps, is yet another sign why the continued uproar by Kenyans is deafening.

This festering concern has an opportunity that involves you Sir – and I trust you can resolve it.

I therefore attach the ~ Statement ~ here-below.

Cordially,

Peter Ouma Muga

STATEMENT 

Yet another set of Forgotten Heroes – our Soldiers

When Kenya dispatched some 2,000 troops across the border into Somalia, on October 16, 2011, the Kenya government argued that they’d had little choice.  And perhaps they didn’t, as this followed a series of cross-border raids by the Somalia-based Extremist group al Shabaab. Kenya’s internal security minister, then, the late George Saitoti, said, “Kenya has been and remains an island of peace and we shall not allow criminals from Somalia, which has been fighting for over two decades, to destabilize our peace.”

The declared strategy was to create a buffer zone inside Somalia.  Nine years down the road ~ and counting ~ The Kenya Defence Force [KDF] , has around 4,000 troops in Somalia, which accounts for about one-fifth of the African Union contingent there.

Whereas I’m not here to argue for or against the war in Somalia, this background is important.  My purpose, is to detail the plight that may be affecting some  KDF staff in Somalia and those returning, and galvanize a solution.

Emerging Stories – psychological war wounds

Stories now emerging like that of Christopher Katitu (32),  and other KDF Soldiers: Joash Ochieng’ Magar, (52), Byron Adera, Maina Karari, and many more all who served in Somalia, suggest all is not well. Interviews with former KDF doctors, mental health specialists and a dozen ex-KDF soldiers, present a picture of a system that has favored discipline over mental health care in the cases of hundreds of soldiers.

Katitu’s case offers a classic case of what may be the state of affairs with KDF staff. He suffered a mental breakdown, and instead of being treated for suspected Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Katitu was locked in a cell for two years and has been court-martialed and jailed for six months when he tried to rejoin his battalion. A senior private, he had a breakdown during leave, said he was not once offered an appointment with a counselor, nor did he know the option was available.

Knowing Katitu was one year away from qualifying for a pension. His father, an ex-soldier, had died, and his salary was supporting a large extended family  –  your guess is as good as mine – what his options are upon release!

That there are many others in #KDF like Katitu, should concern us as a responsible citizens, and primarily as those entrusted with their welfare, this should be a grave concern that occupies our attention.

Way Forward

Isn’t there a need to focus on an evolving medical condition, among soldiers currently in, and returning from Somalia?

Shouldn’t we consider the following;

  • Those diagnosed may be considered for a honorable discharge BUT to have access to medical benefits over and above DEMIS [which is their personal contribution];
  • EVEN UPON DISCHARGE on medical grounds, like this one those soldiers diagnosed with PTSD should be entitled to a medical scheme paid for by the state.

General, while lobbying to entrench such solutions in legislation will undoubtedly give expression to the best practice solution possible.  It should surely enjoy the support of parliament, and those of us affected because this is the human [and sustainable] thing to do.

On the other hand, perhaps, this “silent killer” doesn’t exist in Kenya Defence Forces, and yet, if it does, it warrants your immediate and urgent attention.

This is for your kind perusal and suitable remedial action, and which almost certainly will present you with a suitable legacy.

Over to you General.

Peter Ouma Muga

UPDATE 

Since this article was published, a petition  which prays for a Veteran Law to be enacted by Parliament to meet the needs of military veterans and their dependents has been initiated. True North shares this petition 

CLICK to Hear Major Lucy Mukuria who was a psychologist in the Kenyan army for 11 years. She spent a year on the front line and was deployed to Somalia. She suffered with PTSD and is now calling for more to be done for Kenyan war veterans.

Kindly sign the Petition [and share it with like minded Kenyans] as a signal that you care about the life expectation and experience of Kenyan military veterans.  Show your support by signing the form,  which you can have your friends and family sign as well.   Download / Sign / Scan / and send to mukuria@thetruenorth.co.ke and a copy to  Major Lucy Mukuria. P.O.Box 53211-00200.

Download Form for petition signatures

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