Hello everyone, London Real & Jake Wood here

Following the incredible response to our interview with Jake



we decided to help him have an IAmA for everyone to ask some questions.

PROOF: https://twitter.com/JakeDWWood/status/305308740859613184

Without further ado I give you Jake Wood:

EDIT: Jake will be back tomorrow to check if he missed any questions. Thx

Comments: 102 • Responses: 43  • Date: 

WolfeDeWolf10 karma

What do you consider the highest/lowest moments of your military career?

londonreal19 karma

Before I went to Iraq and Afghanistan, I remember passing the para selection course, and then doing the jumps course to get my paratrooper's wings. That was very special to me, as a very young man. But of course this was before soldiering became 'real' - on tour. The lowest points were when we lost people. Then it becomes very real, and then I think you cease to be a young man anymore.

Marylandman10110 karma

would you recommend joining the military?

londonreal10 karma

I think some things have to be fought for. The catch of course though, is deciding which wars should be fought, and are worth the terrible cost that war reaps.

So we will need men and women who are prepared to step up to the plate. Whether you should be that person though, is a decision only you can take. The only advice I can give is to look beyond the recruiting brochures, and if you can, speak to veterans, or read their books. This is because if you join, and live, one day you too will be a veteran. If you can live with what they say, and you still want to join, then do so. Your countrymen and women should be proud of you then, because you are going in with your eyes open.

And you should definitely go in with your eyes open.

Salacious-10 karma

Do you think that PTSD is more prevalent among soldiers of Iraq and Afghanistan compared to previous wars, or do you think it is just more recognized now? If the former, why?

londonreal20 karma

Interesting question. From what I have read and been educated in by mental health professionals, the rates of PTSD now are not more prevalent than before. Soldiers, no matter how good they are as soldiers, are still human beings. The ancient Greeks and Romans were documenting mental reactions to trauma over 2000 years ago.

BeastmanBob-7 karma

But there were no loud bangs back then?

londonreal5 karma

True, but people were still killing each other. As an example, there's a Roman account of a legionary beside the writer suddenly going blind in a battle, though the enemy hadn't reached him yet. Millenia later, in the First World War, this same condition was documented as 'hysterical blindness'. Some things don't change; humans usually don't want to die.

BeastmanBob-7 karma

True. But then...going blind in the middle of a fight probably isn't gonna help with that :D

londonreal7 karma

Indeed it does not. But some people can't help such a reaction, in the face of such things.

pizzabyjake1 karma

It just has a different name. Back then it was shell shock. And most vets would drink themselves to death and not talk about their problems instead of getting help. There is nothing different or new about the current wars. In fact if anything the current wars are far easier to fight, the enemy is not well trained or well equipped and quite frankly is horrible at any tactic except suicide bombing. Soldiers in Vietnam had it very tough with hundreds dying every week.

londonreal3 karma

There are smaller numbers of troops fighting the current wars, and therefore the casualty numbers are smaller. However, if you were to look at the current casualty rates, and compare them to other wars, you might be surprised at the correlation.

That said, the quality of medical care these days means that many soldiers who would have died of their wounds in previous wars, now survive.

My experience of the Taliban is that they are not particularly easy to fight. When I was there it was war fighting, plain and simple.

paddypower159 karma

Hi Jake, great podcast My question, if you dont mind, is your advice to a young man/woman thinking of joining the forces today?

londonreal10 karma

Thank you. My only advice would be to make as educated a decision as possible. Don't just listen to the recruiting spiel from the forces; speak to veterans as well. Because if they join, they too will eventually be a veteran. I would be a hypocrite to say 'don't join up' - but at least if they know something of the reality beyond the glossy brochures, they will be going in with their eyes open.

MScDre9 karma

Hey Jake, thanks so much for sharing your story, my question is:

If you had to give one piece of advice to someone ending his service and noticing the symptoms you describe, what would it be?

londonreal13 karma

Hey MScDre - thanks for watching. The best piece of advice I could give someone, especially if they're leaving the forces, is to not suffer in silence. It is not an admission of weakness to put your hand up and say you need help. The sooner you can get help, the better the prognosis for PTSD. And if the PTSD symptoms can't be 'cured', then at least the military will be aware of your condition - and therefore, hopefully, put in place appropriate support for when you are discharged. Suffering in silence, or being in a state of denial won't help you - or anyone around you.

brianbrose7 karma

Hi Jake, thanks for your honest answers recently on London Real.

Do you feel like the British government could do more to help returning vets with mental disorders? What are your symptoms like and what treatments helped you most with PTSD?

londonreal14 karma

Thank you. It's important to say that I did get good psychological treatment from the Army. But it's also true to say that I had to put my hand up and say I needed this treatment. When I was diagnosed with PTSD, the Army medically downgraded me as, basically, mentally unfit for any type of training. This wasn't such an issue for a reservist soldier, such as me, but from my experience, I can totally understand some regulars being reluctant to put their hand up, if they are worried about their military careers. That said though, the Army will want to successfully treat its soldiers. So it all kinda depends if the treatment is successful or not...

hywelteague7 karma

I'm particularly interested to know about how it was constantly moving between your service in the armed forces and your job in the banking industry

Before Afghanistan and the experiences that left you with PTSD, how difficult was it to readjust to 'normal' life each time you returned from a tour to the Middle East, and how long did you need before you were comfortably operating in an office environment again?

londonreal5 karma

Going on tour was never a problem. The problem was always coming back. I found it harder and harder to readjust to home life, with each tour I did. It probably didn't help that I was returning to a banking environment each time as well. I didn't see much of the 'buddy buddy' system there! After my second tour of Iraq, I'd say it took me about 6 months to settle down to some kind of routine again. But after Afghanistan, with the PTSD, that was that. There was no going back to banking, just in my case.

iamaredditer7 karma

Jake thanks for documenting your story. Do you feel like many troops returning are afraid to seek out help? Do you feel that this is the reason for such a higher suicide rate among our veterans?

londonreal6 karma

One of the reasons I wrote the book, and am speaking out now in the media, is just to try and reduce the stigma attached to what is a completely normal reaction to abnormal events for some people. (ie PTSD) I do have friends who are still serving, who are afraid to put their hand up for fear of losing their careers. This shouldn't be the case, but I'm afraid it is. The Army has a lot of work to do to persuade soldiers that it is safe to seek help. For veterans who have left the forces though...I can completely empathise with them if they're just trying to shut off from things in their head. It can become overwhelming, and 'survivor guilt' can especially trigger suicide attempts. This makes it all the more important they speak to someone. They will be missed, no matter how little they think of themselves.

londonreal6 karma

Ladies and Gents thank you so much for your questions, Jake would like to thank everyone and wants to let you all know that he will be back tomorrow to answer anything he might have missed so keep them coming if you have them.


Jake and London Real

Orbitalcid6 karma

Iraq vet here (two tours the same time as you - 2003 through 2005). I mistreated a prisoner, but as soon as the deed was done I felt awful. A shock went through my system. How was it that I didn't know what I was doing was wrong until it was done?

I can relate when you say PTSD is strongly guilt based. Can you talk about the training you received that (possibly) shuts down your moral response system?

londonreal5 karma

Mate, we are all human. I feel I have done terrible things. The military conditions you to be a certain way; to do things that would be seen as terrible back home. But of course a theatre of war is not 'home', and you will have to do and see things some people back home will find hard to understand. The people on the ground with you, will know though. We were, basically, trained to kill. That conditions you as a person. The catch though, is when we come home, and different meaning is attached to the things we saw, and had to do. I feel it would help if the society we served met us half way as we try to readjust to 'home'.

jdkhintz5 karma

Hey Jake, Jackee here from the States. I was interested to hear (at the end of your LondonRealTV interview) the bit about how America treats her Vets vs the UK. I for one, think America has a LONG way to go and needs to do better. I'm curious to learn about any support you've had from the U.S. regarding your book and your PTSD. And will you be doing book promotion in the States?

londonreal6 karma

Hey Jackee, you will know much better than I do what support there is for Vets in the US. I just remember seeing the very public support for veterans, and contrasted that with the UK when I got back. What I don't know about the US though, is how much support there is beyond the homecoming parades and forces discounts. I think things are slowly improving in the UK, generally, but like you, I think there's a long way still to go. Just recently, a Brit soldier with PTSD was prosecuted for 'stealing' 1 weapon and 1 round from his barracks to commit suicide with. He's awaiting sentence now. Just beggars belief, in my opinion.

(I think the book's coming out in the US later this year.)

politicalcritic4 karma

As a Brit, cheers for doing your duty for Queen and country mate. Do you have any memorable experiences with other nations military forces?

londonreal6 karma

Thanks mate, was just doing my bit over there. Regarding other countries' forces (discounting Taliban and Iraqi insurgents!), my most memorable experiences have definitely been with the Americans. I've got nothing but praise for them. I worked with the US Marine 'Force Recon' in Iraq, who were awesome. And as for the USAF in Afghanistan, well, quite simply, they saved our lives one day. I can't think of higher praise than that.

PawnShop8043 karma

Thank you

londonreal1 karma

Thank you for watching, and listening.

boredlike3 karma

What is your most memorable war experience?

londonreal10 karma

To be brutally honest, that would be about 10 minutes of one particular day in Afghanistan. Two guys on our side were mortally wounded within a couple of minutes of each other. I see their faces. I'll leave it at that, just here. The book goes fully into this heart of darkness.

teenytinytigers3 karma

I don't know too much about PTSD, but I do know it is debilitating. Is there a particular event that you know was the catalyst for giving you PTSD? Or is it just a gradual thing that affects you from your combined experiences in war?

londonreal3 karma

I think it can be both. Some people get PTSD from a single car accident, while some soldiers can just reach the point where their mental defences have been ground down to the point of emotional shutdown.

I may fall into that latter category, but I know that all my flashbacks and nightmares are from last tour, in Afghanistan. There were two days in particular, which just keep coming back.

teenytinytigers2 karma

If you don't mind me asking, what were those days?

londonreal4 karma

We lost three guys in the space of two days. One was our Company Commander. He was a good guy.

mj953 karma

what does war feel like and by that I mean the chaos of war

londonreal4 karma

Just from my experience, there can be little to feel in the thick of it. It is a very violent affirmation of life when you are so close to death. This can be exciting, when it is no-one but the enemy who is dying. But it is also terrifying. The thing is though, I found that the terror was something my mind buried away while I was in the moment. So therefore there's a lot of emotional numbness - and that locked away terror in your mind can come back to haunt you later, when you're home.

schlitzer903 karma

Sorry that I missed this AMA, for some reason my boss is "against not working so you can Reddit."

How prevalent is PTSD among infantry soldiers vs. other MOS. Infantrymen face the most combat, and logically should suffer from the most PTSD, but what are the rates and causes behind it for people who do other jobs, and even serve in branches that are not as "up close and personal" such as on a plane or ship?

londonreal1 karma

I'm afraid I don't know the statistical breakdown of PTSD rates to that degree. It's an intelligent question though. I can only guess that PTSD rates are higher in troops who have direct contact with their enemy. But I'm also aware that many other soldiers go on to develop PTSD who haven't been in direct combat. Medics, as an example, will see a lot of traumatic things. And there are even reports that drone pilots are beginning to experience symptoms too.

I think it comes down to the individual, and what particular stressors are placed on his/her mind.

breeyan3 karma

Ill ask a more obvious questiom.. how are you doing and feeling now? Also, this goes without saying but thanks for your service from the US

londonreal1 karma

Thank you in turn, Breeyan. I'm doing okay thanks, the reception to the book here in the UK has been largely very positive, and I'm just glad to be able to play a part in raising awareness of a condition that so many servicemen and women live with.

In my personal life, I have just learned to make room for the ghosts. I have bad days and good days. I just hope there will be more good days, looking forward.

SniperRezil2 karma

Do you have the 1000 yard stare?

londonreal1 karma

I was told I had it towards the end of my last Afghan tour. I just have to take people's word for that. As to whether I have it now, I haven't thought about it. I know that I emotionally shut down sometimes, and find myself staring into space. I guess this might look like what you're describing.

xCassiopeiAx2 karma

I don't have a question, just want to say thank you so much for your service.

londonreal1 karma

Thank you in turn.

maxwellco2 karma


londonreal2 karma

I've just started hearing about this now, over in the US. I don't think there's anything like that over here in the UK. It seems like it could help. I can imagine how unconditional love from a very loyal companion could help heal emotional wounds.

[deleted]2 karma


londonreal6 karma

Hi Bushy-Top. My book is just me; I poured everything I was and now am into it.

It's a 10 year journey, beginning in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq, then going back there in 2004 - and then to Afghanistan in 2007. I do not just relive these tours though, I also describe going back to civilian life in between them - and then my descent into PTSD after the final tour. The moral juxtaposition of the banking world I used to work for, set against the selfless altruism I saw on tour, is all there.

It's everything that happened over these 10 years, and the effect it had on me as person. Also, I wrote it as I went along, so I think I am a different person at the end of the book, compared to who I was at the start.

Hope you like it.

Marylandman1012 karma

what were the average reactions you would get from people when you would tell them you were a war veteran? What was the best/worst reactions?

londonreal2 karma

I don't tend to tell people I'm a veteran, but where there's no getting out of it, I have to say I'm largely met with ambivalence. The best reactions I ever had were in the US; people seemed genuinely grateful there. But just in my experience, I have come across this appreciation far less in the UK. The worst reaction I had was the question: 'Did you kill anyone?' This person wasn't interested in me as a person, she just seemed to be interested in an act she had no comprehension of. If she truly knew what it was that she was asking, I don't think she would have asked the question.

ce51uke872 karma

Great podcast Jake, you are one brave man, defiantly going to purchase your book. My question is similar to Salacious, When you spoke about the decompression phase of coming back from a tour, do you think PTSD is more common within the territorial army?

londonreal2 karma

Thank you, I'm still learning to accept praise - but thank you.

Recent studies, including from King's College London, have proved that PTSD is more common in reservist soldiers. You've hit the nail on the head when you talk about the decompression phase. Everyone returning from Afghan now gets 36 hours in Cyprus as 'decompression'. But clearly this is only 36 hours in Cyprus. Regular soldiers can and do get PTSD, but there rates are lower, perhaps because they decompress for the weeks, months and then years back from tour in a barracks environment. ie They stay in the military, and often with the soldiers they were on tour with. Reservists will never have that. One day they're in Afghanistan, and then after a few weeks leave, they're suddenly shoehorned straight back into their prior, civilian, existence. This can be extremely disorientating, and isolating - which can be the push over the abyss for some.

MungBucket2 karma

The glorification of war is everywhere. Do you find yourself actively avoiding war movies and war related video games to avoid triggers of flashbacks?

londonreal2 karma

I will be blunt here. When I am sober, I do everything I can to avoid any reminders of war.

But when I come back from a night out, when I have been drinking, sometimes I feel this urge to completely reconnect to all that I'm trying to repress. I guess this is because alcohol just lubricates the coming of my demons. They are just there when I'm drunk anyway. So I might as well just embrace them. And then I find myself watching one bit from 'The Thin Red Line', over and over. It's insane and I know I am torturing myself, but it just happens.

I probably need a girlfriend. She would stop me doing this, at least while she was with me.

MungBucket2 karma

I hope you find a way through this. Your story on the podcast was a real eye opener. Do you and London Real have plans to do another in the future? Thank you for sharing.

londonreal2 karma

Over to London Real on that one..! I would be happy to be involved.

brianbrose2 karma

Jake on the London Real episode you touched on the "Dear John" letter and how much a soldier's relationship with a woman can affect his performance and mental attitude. Can you expand on this and what could be done differently to manage relationship drama when a soldier is on tour?

londonreal3 karma

I think there are too many soldiers who have to go through this experience, but as far as the army is concerned, it unfortunately goes with the territory. Long separations = loneliness on both sides. So I have such great respect for the partners of soldiers who do stand by their partners. The more they love the soldier, the greater the stress of not knowing if they're safe or not. I can only imagine living in fear of that 'knock at the door'. In 'Jarhead', Anthony Swofford dealt with the issues of a failing relationship plaguing a soldier's mind. I was no different. It is a cocktail of emotions I wish on no-one, to slowly lose the love of your life so many thousands of miles away, while living in fear of your very life. The army as an entity cannot really help soldiers in such a position. It is up to his mates who he/she is on the ground with, to provide that moral support.

steelnuts1 karma

Knowing what you know now, and if you could go back, what would you choose between being a cop or a soldier?

londonreal1 karma

Ironically, that decision was made for me. A few years before I went to Iraq, I successfully applied to London's Metropolitan Police Service. Just before I was about to begin police training though, my hearing was damaged on exercise with the Army. The police said my hearing had been damaged too much, and that was that. But the Army had no problems with it - so I just carried on soldiering...

CondorP161 karma

I don't know your book, or who you are, but thank you for your service.

londonreal1 karma

Thank you CondorP16.

jcasek1 karma


londonreal2 karma

Thank you jcasek. I hope this does help me, but also so many others who have to live with the past, with PTSD. Support from people like you makes home a much better place to come back to.

jorisepe1 karma

As far as I understand modern millitary training, they teach recruits to kill the enemy without consciously thinking about it at the moment. They do this because studies showed that most people aren't able to kill other people, so basically they trick people into killing. What is your experience? Is there some truth in this and if so, how do you feel about it afterwards?

londonreal2 karma

My experience of killing was that it was done at long ranges, without emotion. You coldly align the crosshairs, and fire at the 'target'.

It is when you come home though, that different meaning can be attached to those things you have done. Within the cosy norms of life back home, what you have done can suddenly seem abnormal, and morally out of place. That 'target' can instead be remembered as a 'person', which of course they were.

I am constantly told I should not feel this by psychologists, who remind me what the norms of life were in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now I feel guilt. I want to channel the destruction of my past into something constructive for my present and future. Now I am not a soldier, now I am just a human being who has blood on his hands, I want to atone.

sir_chadwell_heath1 karma


londonreal1 karma

Thank you very much for sharing. I hear everything you say and empathise completely. I was in an airborne unit before transferring to another, where I did my tours in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, before going to Afghan in 2007.

I felt that complete isolation when I came home too. It's no fault of anyone back home, but it's incredibly hard to talk to anyone about combat if they have not experienced it themselves. It's another of the reasons I wrote; I wanted to try and connect with the world around me, to try and be understood, and to bring understanding of the psychological hangover we and so many others have to live with.

I can only hope you're getting the support you need in the US, both from the government and the military. The last thing people with PTSD need, is to have to fight for recognition of their wounds. Unfortunately I had to do this.

Utrinque Paratus. We're still 'Ready for Anything' in our minds back home now. I wish you all the best mate, and please remember you're not on your own.

[deleted]1 karma


londonreal1 karma

Each of my three tours were done with different units, so I never had the option to rejoin the same guys on tour. That said, I can empathise and understand where you're coming from completely. I know a lot of soldiers feel this way. We have to make a break at some time though; we can't spend all our lives on tour. Thanks for the beer mate - there'll be one waiting for you in London too.

simomo1 karma

Did you ever come across anyone suffering PTSD effects in the heat of battle? For example, did anyone ever freeze-up and not perform when they needed to?

londonreal1 karma

I do remember seeing a guy with battle shock, in the aftermath of an attack in which we lost two men. But I never remember seeing anyone who froze up and didn't perform. In retrospect, I'm quite surprised by this.

ThePalinImpaler1 karma

What do you think of pacifists

londonreal1 karma

If they are genuine in their beliefs, then I must respect them. If everyone was a pacifist, then there would be no war.

But of course pacifists are largely a minority at the moment, at least at our current stage of human evolution. So I think that unfortunately we need to defend ourselves from aggressive threats to our home, and stand up for what is right abroad.

Sploszion0 karma

What is your Kill/Death ratio?

londonreal1 karma

It's probably incomparable to a video game.

The_POTUS-5 karma

I saw your interview with UFC commentator Jon Anik. Did you know going into the interview that he is indeed a Reptilian? How do you feel about him now that you know? This is a serious question.

londonreal2 karma

Hi there, I think you maybe thinking of a different Jake Wood, sorry.

kcthefence2 karma

hello there Jake, Great to be able too speak to you on here!

Do you still get see any of the lads you served with. Has Regular soldiers often have each other as a support system too declimatise with. I think it's very important too be able to be in Coms with your fellow Brothers in arms during times like these.

londonreal3 karma

Absolutely kcthefence, I'm still very good friends with the guys who were in my teams on the ground. These are bonds that cannot be broken, and we are all very thankful for them now, now we are back home. We knew what the other was thinking on tour, and we know what the other is feeling now we are back.

IBogus-18 karma

so let me get this right... Your an Afghan you fought in the UK? props i hate those eurodouches

londonreal10 karma

No, I'm a Brit who fought in Afghanistan.