Lt Col Benjamin Caesar, Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon at University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust and 16 Medical Regiment, Royal Army Medical Corps, was among those laying wreaths for the Remembrance Sunday service at the War Memorial in Brighton.
Lt Col Caesar recently returned from deployment to Afghanistan, where he worked in a hospital set up for injured personnel and Afghans going through the evacuation process at Kabul airport. He also used his experience as a new father to settle a baby passed over a wall to troops in Kabul.
Speaking about of the Remembrance service, he said: “It’s hard to put into words what the wreath laying meant to me. I thought about colleagues in Afghanistan, who sadly lost their lives. I thought about all the veterans that were sent home wounded and physically, emotionally and psychologically scarred.
“I also thought about the other front line: the partners and families that are left behind and make huge sacrifices. Every year, we remember and every year it’s hard, poignant and important to do so.”
Lt Col Caesar joined the Trust in 2015, and in 2016, founded Brighton’s Chavasse Clinic, one of only two specialist musculoskeletal clinics in the UK for service personnel and veterans. He said: “When patients come to see me in these clinics, they want to see someone who understands what they’ve been through and the difficulties that they face.
The clinic works closely in conjunction with the veteran mental health services (TILS) and the Sussex Armed Forces Network. Lt Col Caesar added: “It was during these clinics that I realised more than 40% of my patients had a diagnosis of PTSD. It prompted me to learn about PTSD, and see if we need to make any changes to how we manage their treatment.
“My work with the Veteran community is incredibly rewarding on a personal level as I feel it is an opportunity to show those who have sacrificed physically, psychologically or both, that the current serving members of the Armed Forces remember and care about their wellbeing.”
As a result of his work with patients with PTSD, Lt Col Caesar has also become a strong advocate for spotting signs of burnout within the healthcare workforce. He has recently returned from speaking at international symposiums about the issue. “This is an ongoing issue, which the pandemic has only exacerbated. I’m interested in raising awareness about this issue; talking about why burnout affects us and helping people find ways to manage it.”