For many former child soldiers the reintegration part of DDR (disarmament, rehabilitation and reintegration) can be the most traumatic. They are often no longer accepted by their communities and their families, and are sometimes feared or even reviled. According to psychologist Michael Wessells, a professor at Columbia University and author of the book Child Soldiers: From Violence to Protection:
Stigmatization is a persistent problem faced by former child soldiers when attempting to reintegrate into society. This is especially true for girls, who, in addition to fulfilling domestic roles in armies, might take on combat responsibilities as well.
Author and former child soldier Ishmael Beal notes:
Socializing the children requires a strong community, society involvement, as the community, too, needs to heal and learn to accept the children again.
And then there can be other issues…
Nay Myo Hein, a former child soldier from Burma faces deportation charges after his application for refugee status was denied. CBA News in Canada tells his story:
[Hein] explained that he was kidnapped while at a train station when he was 12 years old and sent to a camp for child soldiers. That experience, he said, was traumatic… After nearly two years as a child soldier, he deserted the army… Then, for almost 10 years, Hein said he lived a secretive life in Burma… In 2007, while working on a container ship that had docked off Canada’s East Coast, Hein jumped ship and eventually made his way to Saskatoon, where he now lives with relatives.
According to Hein, he could face imprisonment or even execution upon his arrival in Burma due to possible desertion charges.