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Kenyan Soldiers Affected By Somalia War Often Face Punishment Instead Of Treatment

Kenyan soldiers who are traumatized by the Somalia war are always disciplined instead of receiving treatment.

One Christopher Katitu, who was a low-ranking soldier with the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) has now divulged.

Despite spending two years manning a mounted machine gun fron a trench in Kismayo, Katitu had to face the wrath for having post-traumatic stress disorder.

Narrating his story to international media _The Washington Post_, Katitu stated that after the fatal Garissa attack that claimed the lives of 147 students, he was sent to the edges of the tense city to guard a highway checkpoint day and night.

Following the pressure that came with his work, he got a mental breakdown during his leave from work from Garissa.

Despite being in the army for a decade, Katitu revealed that he had never seen a counsellor.

Instead of receiving treatment following his mental breakdown, Katitu was jailed and court-martialed when he tried to rejoin his comrades.

However, in defense of the force, KDF’s chief medical officer, George Ng’ang’a mentioned: “…if there’s one area where we’ve gone ahead, it us mental health.”

He also refuted claims that KDF has any records on mental illness, nor does it have a dedicated mental facility for the army men and women.

According to another soldier, when Katitu returned on duty he was stripped of his ID and phone and later charged with desertion and locked in a cell for two years, awaiting a court martial.

He was later sentenced to six more months in prison.

Major Lucy Mukuria, the first KDF psychologist, now retired, stated that she has spoken with at least 800 soldiers who suffered from symptoms typical of post-traumatic stress disorder who were disciplined instead of treated.

Even as the hundreds of them are at home following their discharge from the service, most of them, including Katitu, remain hopeful that one day the force will compensate them for their service.

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Written by Jael Keya

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