A PROFESSOR from the Social Science and Education Division-Psychology Program (SS&E) of a university in Davao City launched last week her book on the stress level faced by soldiers in the face of combat, particularly the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
Gail Tan-Ilagan launched "War Wounded: Combat Stress Sequelae of the 10ID Soldiers" described by 10th ID chief-of-staff Lysander Suerte to "embody the complicated lives of soldiers, a work of passion containing the throttled mind, aching heart, joys and frustration of soldiers who serves in humility despite his wounds."
Said book was made possible through the Ateneo de Davao University (Addu) Research and Publication Office, School of Arts and Sciences, SS&E, with Mindanews, and the 10th Infantry "Agila" Division of the Army.
Suerte, who provided the book review, relayed to the audience the states Ilagan went though in creating the book. "Gail wrote using the words the soldiers spoke in the frame of their minds. We simply supported and allowed her to work with our soldiers," he said during the gathering of the academe, military, and media at Addu F213 Finster Building.
"To most of us, we are unnamed soldiers but to Gail we were her favorite soldiers. This is a close glimpse into the soldiers who works beyond the politics of time and carries on with their work as soldiers simply with their love of country and care for humanity. I hope research to continue this effort will be made by the military itself. This is a must read especially to those within the ranks," Suerte said.
Ilagan, during her address, described the foot soldier "as the most important resource of the military."
"I may have had many disagreements with the officials (of the military) in the course of making this work, but we both agree that the foot soldiers are the most precious resource of the Philippine Army. Recently a soldier in Mawab, Comval, after arguing with his wife, ran amok shooting at people causing the death of one and wounding five. I was told during this ordeal, although he was so angered, he never shot at his wife," Ilagan said.
"Domestic relations contribute to the stress already bearing down soldiers from combat. (Quoting from my book) men who com back from combat are never the same again," Ilagan said.
Ilagan added her recommendation that soldiers should undergo "a ritual of talking" before going back to their families.
10th ID commander Major General Carlos Holganza also described the book "to have humanized soldiers."
"Soldiers are also people who fears and dreams. Meron rin silang mga anak na gustong makita at the end of the day. The soldiers are the most valuable asset, we might as well invest in making them strong soldiers who are both strong in and out," Holganza said.
"I blame the system partly because we thought soldiers were simply there to fight. It was during the time of the Martial Law, and after soldiers came back to society they faced anger from people. It is a bit sad because we are fighting for the same people, the same people who see us as abusive," Holganza said.
Eastern Mindanao Command Chief Lieutenant General Raymundo Ferrer said they would be buying copies of the book and would be distributed nationwide among the medical staff of the Philippine Army.