Liberia’s Vice President Chief Dr. Jewel Howard Taylor joined the Nigerian Defense and Police Officers Wives Association (DEPOWA) on the afternoon of Tuesday, October 4, 2022 to break grounds for a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder project: Armed Forces PTSD Centre in Abuja, Nigeria that would cater to military personnel with indications of vulnerability to PTSD, and other mental problems.
Serving as keynote speaker, Chief Dr. Taylor stressed that project is a call to action that would bring to nudge servicemen’s attention to the realization that dedication to duty is sine qua non to patriotism that is therefore deserving the support of national government. She spoke on the topic: “A tribute to Nigerian Soldiers for International Peacekeeping: The Liberia story”. This subject, she emphasized, is now a historical Lesson and carries with it the simple truism – “That no matter what, WAR should never be an option for change in National Leadership or change in Government.”
According to the Liberian first female Vice President, she was adding her voice to the organization’s President to advocate for the needed support for the project given the fact that when this unprecedented project is completed, will provide a safe space to attend to the psychosocial need of in service personnel and their families who are at risk of traumatic disorders resulting from the discharge of their duties.
She said “this initiative provides a glimmer of hope to those who serve in the Armed Forces of Nigeria, and others around Africa; who urgently need these services.”
The Liberian Vice President informed the Nigerians about efforts already made by the Government of Liberia under the leadership of President George M. Weah to attend to the medical needs of members of the Armed Forces of Liberia and their families- the construction of the 14th Military Hospital in 2020. She added that the military hospital facility became the hub for treating persons affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Liberia; and is now gone back to being used for its original intent – for the Liberian Armed Forces.
“It is common place to heed the call to cater for spouses and children of Persons in Arms; but rare to heed the calls for the initiation of programs which cater for and provide opportunities to victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the Armed Forces of Nations in Africa. For me, this initiative is not only historic, but also unprecedented in our part of the World; and as such it demands the fullest support from all,” she pointed out.
Vice President Howard Taylor recounted the immeasurable role the Armed Forces of Nigeria played in restoring peace during the Liberian civil war and paid homage to those who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Chief Dr. Howard Taylor reminisced “Liberia was plagued by a civil war from the late 1989 until mid 2003; with devastating consequences of this internal crisis on the West African Region, and ripple effects stretching as far away as Europe and the Americas. On the one hand, it plunged the International Community into a myriad of challenges, including huge number of refugees and the need for mobilizing vast resources to deal with the complex humanitarian emergencies. Whilst on the other hand, it caused a human catastrophe of death, separation of families, lack of basic human needs for survival and alienation in local communities where refugees were temporarily settled.
In response to this devastation and its ripple effects; regional Leaders under the aegis of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), after urgent deliberations, decided that peacekeeping by military intervention was the best option for intervention to halt the crisis. This, then prompted the deployment of the ECOWAS Mission Group called ECOMOG with the intent to stop the war and bring peace to Liberia.
This intervention by ECOMOG, with a vanguard role played by Nigeria, was the first comprehensive attempt at Regional Peace Keeping Initiatives since the Organization of African Unity (OAU) mobilized African Armed Forces to intervene in the Congo Crises between 1960 and 1965. The OAU had in the interim also established an ‘Inter-African Force’ to intervene in Chad in 1981.”
She expressed optimism that effort Nigeria is leading would be replicated across Africa to ensure that military hospitals have PTSD units.