Afghanistan hero sues army over lack of care

Forgotten? Parkinson’s mother says his pay has decreased since he was injured. © Getty

How should we react? Is Britain a nation that can ruthlessly discard one of its wounded soldiers, as the Mail on Sunday says? Or is the story more complicated than it seems?

Helmand Province, Afghanistan, 2006.

Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, 21, is driving along a deserted road when he hits an anti-tank mine planted by the Taliban. His humble Land Rover stands no chance.

L/Bdr Parkinson suffered 40 injuries, including brain damage and the loss of both his legs. He was never expected to survive the explosion, but his 12-year recovery has astounded doctors. He has learned to walk and talk again. He was proclaimed as a national hero.

The story, however, does not end there. The Mail on Sunday has revealed that L/Bdr Parkinson is now suing the Ministry of Defence (MoD) after claiming that his pay was cut, putting his medical treatment in jeopardy and failing to provide him with wheelchairs.

Shame on the MoD! comes the cry from many. Lions led by donkeys!

Or is it? L/Bdr Parkinson has received a lot of help. He was given £570,000, which he used to buy a house, and is still being paid by the Army despite not serving in combat. One comment under the Mail on Sunday piece accused him of “greed”, adding that “he signed up for the job”.

How should we react to this story?

Two sides

With anger. L/Bdr Parkinson deserves nothing but the best from the Army, and yet this brave man was forced to rely on charity to secure basic needs like a wheelchair. If soldiers swear an oath to queen and country, then the state should respond by pledging a commitment of absolute care. This is a classic case of heartless penny-pinching.

With caution. Things are never as simple as they seem. Do you really think the army is a callous organisation that treats wounded soldiers badly? They are spending millions opening a new Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre. It is much more likely that this dispute is the result of incompetence. Do not be too quick to judge.

You Decide

  1. How should we react to this story?

Activities

  1. List five tips you would give a friend on how to judge whether an article is biased.

Some People Say...

“Soldiers generally win battles; generals get credit for them.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, having lost both legs and suffered brain damage in Afghanistan, made a miraculous recovery and is now suing the Ministry of Defence for not taking good enough care of him. We know that the MoD and the NHS reached an agreement to share the cost of L/Bdr Parkinson’s treatment, and he is being treated in NHS hospitals. We know, however, that charity provided for some of L/Bdr Parkinson’s care as well.

Word Watch

Helmand Province
Located in the south of Afghanistan, Helmand Province was and remains the country’s most dangerous province.
40 injuries
As well as losing his legs and suffering a serious brain injury, L/Bdr Parkinson also sustained fractures to his skull, cheekbone, nose, jaw, pelvis, vertebrae and suffered serious damage to his spleen and chest.
Lions led by donkeys
This phrase is popularly used to describe the British infantry of the First World War and to blame their deaths on the stupidity of their generals.

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