Veterans share inspiring stories as survey reveals mental health crisis

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Eterns shares personal stories of how reaching out for help has changed their lives after a survey revealed the extent of mental health distress among soldiers.

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a Help for Heroes The survey showed that 73 percent of elderly people with permanent health conditions struggle with their mental health on a daily basis, and the same number often reported suffering from long-term pain.

Meanwhile, according to the charity’s survey of 2,201 veterans and serving personnel conducted in June 2021, 82% have difficulty sleeping every night.

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Nearly 60% of people living with a long-term health condition also said they believed their physical condition had worsened during the pandemic, and 56% reported that their mental health had deteriorated .

In the 1980s, 34-year-old infantry soldier John Newcomb was injured in an explosion in Northern Ireland and has since developed multiple sclerosis.

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now 58, veteran who once ran Bosnia In the UK to raise funds for children, uses a wheelchair and is losing the use of their hands, but is determined to raise funds to complete the 1,000 km journey off the Lancashire coast. Help for heroes.

His partner, Claire Corner, who will complete the trip with him and who suffers from the auto-immune disease lupus, said he would use a wheelchair from Help for Heroes and a customized stationary bike and hand-bike gifted by a friend from the military. will use. .

Mr Newcomb, who lives near Chorley in Lancashire, said: “People Take the simplest things lightly, being able to stand up, talk to people face to face, a proper hug.

“Help for Heroes came along and I can do all those things again.”

Former infantry soldier Ben Bainbridge, who suffered a life-altering injury in Afghanistan, is hoping to walk down the aisle to marry his fiancé, Steph Dunn, after receiving a new leg brace from charity. are.

Mr Bainbridge, 30, of Beverly, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, was put into a coma when an explosion broke his leg 12 years ago, but has since been able to walk again and has two daughters, Eli, 11, and Ariel Seven.

He said: “It’s been tough, there are so many things I struggle to do, like being able to go on long walks with our dog.

“I’m not ashamed of my leg, but I look forward to walking down the aisle and getting people to stare at me for the right reasons.”

Miss Dunn, 31, continued: “I cried when he stood up and went into the new leg brace for the first time, it felt so amazing.

“It was overwhelming because just being able to walk has been a daily struggle for her for 11 years.”

Royal Navy veteran David Street, 42, said he still has nightmares about serving as a gunner in Afghanistan, where he was deployed the day after 9/11.

Mr Street, from Plymouth, suffered injuries to his left knee and lower back, leaving him with permanent pain, relying on a walking stick and PTSD.

He added: “The mental side of it is tough. Every explosion can trigger something. I’m constantly on edge, I don’t want to sleep. I can’t relax.”

On recent developments in Afghanistan, he said: “Many of us veterans feel worthless, and what was the point of 20 years of conflict in that country? Now it’s terrifying to watch.”

But Mr Street said Help for Heroes had supported him in overcoming mental health struggles and feeling connected with a “family of veterans”.

Former Royal Signal communications operator Rob Jennings suffered from PTSD, panic attacks and lack of sleep along with health and social anxiety after being stationed in Bosnia, where he was on guard every night from 1 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The 50-year-old veteran from Leeds, West Yorkshire, said: “By the age of 24 I had three military medals and felt valued for my service, but after mental health difficulties and being medically discharged from the forces I was feeling worthless.

“However, by negotiating with support services, I have created a full-time job that is simply taking care of myself and making sure that I get through each day constructively, one day at a time.”

Veterans can get help from the charity by calling the helpline on 0300 303 9888.

Mr Newcomb’s fundraising page for his 1,000km challenge can be accessed at https://www.justgiven.com/fundraising/claire-corner4.

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