Thirty Norwegian veterans who served in Lebanon during the 1980s and on other tough assignments have set sail on a historic vessel, part of efforts to clear their heads and relieve isolation. The unique voyage is also aimed at raising awareness that many veterans are struggling with psychological problems.
“We have to recognize that war has its costs,” the secretary general of the veterans’ association Sipos told newspaper Dagsavisen.
The veterans sailed from Bygdøy in Oslo last week on board the historic vessel Svanen. Several of those on board have both physical and psychological scars from their military service abroad, mostly as part of UN peacekeeping forces.
“Many veterans are isloated and sit alone with their thoughts,” said Kenneth Mesøy, age 52, who served in Lebanon. “This is a way of giving the veterans a feeling of mastering a project, working together and having a positive experience. For me, it’s been very important to be part of this fellowship.”
The voyage went from Oslo to the fortress island of Oscarsborg, then on to Horten, Fredrikstad and Stavern before crossing over to Aalborg in Denmark, where the veterans were meeting with Danish colleagues. In Stavern, the veterans met with all the mayors in Vestfold County, local chiefs of the social welfare agency NAV and local health officials, to tell them about the need for assistance for military veterans. The ship was due to return to Oslo over the weekend.