Soldiers in the Sun
by Michael Symmons Roberts

Michael Symmons Roberts - Soldiers in the Sun

BBC Radio 3: Drama on 3

Broadcast: Sunday 2nd December 2007 @ 8:00 p.m.

"Soldiers in the Sun" is a drama-documentary exploring Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the Military.

War and poetry are inextricably linked. Throughout history, poetry has been used to articulate responses of all kinds to the business of war, and this poetic monologue takes listeners inside the head of Captain Rob Shepperton who isserving in Afghanistan in the medical corps. Nearing the end of a tour of duty, he comes across the hanging body of a young boy with whom he had recently played football. For Rob, a father, the experience triggers PTSD that is later explored in sessions with an NHS psychiatrist.

"Soldiers in the Sun" also details the history of the link between mental illness and combat a subject of repeated debate. In 1922, the Shell Shock Commission decreed that the symptom was due to poor leadership and training. Seventeen years later, the Horder Committee banned all psychiatric labelling, treatment and pensions. Today, mental health problems have become an acknowledged side effect of battle yet many still feel let down.

Contributors include Professor Simon Wessely, who leads the research unit in King's College London looking at the physical and psychological health of 3,600 regular soldiers deployed in the 2003 war in Iraq and 4,300 non-deployed colleagues; Martin Bagley, leading psychiatrist in the NHS; Morgan O'Connell, one of the Task Force psychiatrists involved in the Falklands conflict; and Air Commodore Paul Evans, Director of Health Care for the Ministry of Defence.

They discuss the Ministry of Defence's systems for supporting those with mental health problems, and whether enough is being done for Servicemen and women after they return home from duty.

With Adrian Bower [Captain Rob Shepperton], Deborah McAndrew [The Doctor], Thomas Morrison [Matt], Tom Attwood [Sol], Nikhil Parmar [Samsour], and Emily Armitage [Zoe].

Music played and composed by John Harle, known equally for his work as a saxophonist and for his bold compositions, intermingling jazz, rock, classical music, electronics and opera.

Produced and directed by Susan Roberts in Manchester.

90 min.


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