Bad Medicine: the story of an SAS Medic


Bad Medicine
Terry Ledgard
Published by Viking, Penguin Books

RRP $35.00 in paperback
ISBN 9780143797272

Terry Ledgard delivers a high octane narrative filled with expletives and laced with the dark humour we’ve come to expect in this type of memoir.

Having survived childhood in outback Australia, he joined the Army and rose through the ranks to become an SAS medic in Afghanistan. As he endured explosive action, blood-curdling trauma and gut-wrenching humanitarian aid missions, he found the modern-day soldier’s larrikin spirit was the perfect prescription for intense combat conditions.

Armed with a new-found perspective on life, Terry returned to the Real World, but soon realised it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

He describes the thousand-yard stare:

The thousand-yard stare is portrayed in the movies as a war veteran’s staunch, steely gaze into oblivion. The subtle implication is that veterans are reliving their wartime memories with an air of fragility amid the indomitable strength of the human spirit.

In contrast to popular portrayal, the thousand-yard stare does not involve veterans reliving gruesome wartime experiences. No, the most gruesome picture that a veteran contemplates is the shallowness and infinite black hole of boredom that consumes grown-ups in the Real World. Veterans just can’t relate anymore.

The thousand-yard stare is usually the result of veterans imagining exactly how empty a Real World zombie’s life must be to talk about such superficial bullshit.

His life became a slow-motion train wreck as he faced the reality of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Bad Medicine is a gritty account of life as an SAS medic in the world’s most intense warzone – and what comes after.

Back in civilian life, it is the triviality of modern life compared with what he had done that most troubled him – he reserves his greatest scorn for Facebook philosophers, although the pointlessness of many conversations in social settings irritates him too.

Much had been written recently about the difficulties of PTSD and the transition from an active military life to civvy street.

The more stories of PTSD that are shared the better – I think there are many readers who will identify closely with his experience or at least develop a greater understanding of the degree of mental torment in our midst.

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