Bedwetting as stigma for soldiers

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The list of diseases determining the degree of suitability for military service was last revised in April 2018. The Ministry of Defense developed a large document consisting of 103 articles. The government adopted the N 404-N decision, which was one of the last decisions signed by the former Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan. It limited the list of diseases incompatible with the army service. If previously a person with a physical, mental disability or illness had been definitely relieved of the service, now, in case of a number of illnesses, the draftees are considered to be fit for “restricted” service. One of such diseases is nocturnal enuresis (nighttime bedwetting).

In common military units, they are humiliated

Let us mention that nocturnal enuresis is an acquired disease, which is often caused by nerve disorders regulating the activity of the central bladder. It is typical of people with impressive, uncertain, unstable character and requires certain regime and conditions that are difficult to secure in military units.

Men having the disease, in normal life are able to conceal the problem that impairs their male dignity, but it becomes evident to many in the military, and the young people already having uncertain behavior become psychologically much more depressed.

According to official data, there are more than two hundred young men who have this problem. Experts say real numbers are higher. For the youth suffering from bedwetting, according to unofficial data, there are 4 units in Sisian, Gyumri, Yerevan, Hoktemberyan, and soon another one will be opened in Ijevan. But there are places of service where there are no military units separated for them. The young men with this problem serve in common military units, but sleep in separate bedrooms. They are mainly the area sweepers, and others call them with various degrading names.

This is the problem about which nobody knows except the family members

“We do not want to get dismissals,” says N. A. If we get out of the unit, we avoid people, because 90 percent of the city is aware that there is such a military unit for us. We are lying, saying, that we are not from that unit. If they suddenly learn that we are from that military unit, you will not imagine what begins. We are constantly feeling depressed.”

Often servicemen with bedwetting problem sleep in the same military unit next to healthy soldiers. The latter are disgusted with them, ridicule them, avoid standing or sitting beside them.

For recruits with bedwetting problem, service with restrictions means sweeping the military unit all day long. “Is this our service? We have come here dressed as soldiers, to do just this? Is this why the state keeps us? Is this why we are conscripted? I beg you, ask the government, is there any hope that our situation will change? At least, do people understand what they have done?” N.S. asks on behalf of himself and his fellows.

“Such service is not effectual”

Military expert Van Hambardzumyan believes that bedwetting is a great stress for servicemen, which can lead to extreme consequences.

“In our military units, there is a tradition of bullying the new servicemen by older ones, a tradition of laughing, humiliating such young people. Conscription of servicemen with this disease will increase dramatically the cases of suicides, mental illnesses, and borderline psychological cases. Their service is not effectual at all.” According to the military expert Hambardzumyan, by tightening the order of conscription, the state should also strengthen the system of guarantees as it is responsible for aggravation of health problems of the conscripts.

“It is clear that the aim of this toughening is to recruit more people. But in the course of the service, under conditions of severe physical burden these diseases will aggravate, the number of casualties in the army will increase. The state’s responsibility must be increased accordingly, its guarantee, which does not exist,” says the expert.” “To make the protection of borders more reliable, it is not necessary to recruit sick people but to make the military service attractive for healthy young people. Vigen Sargsyan was trying to do it and David Tonoyan does not do it at all.”

Defense Minister’s spokeswoman Artsrun Hovhannisyan said in an interview with Forrights.am: “Those who have this health problem, yes, have been given determent.” For more detailed comments, he urged to send written inquiry. We are interested in the following questions. At present, how many servicemen do we have diagnosed with “nocturnal enuresis” in the units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh Defense Army, and what is done regarding the young men’s complaints? Once we receive the answers, they will be published.

Syuzan Simonyan

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