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I joined the Army at the tender age of 16 back in September of 2003, I went to the Army Foundation College with little or no understanding of what to expect. I finally joined my battalion - The King's Regiment at Catterick Garrison in 2004.
My first tour of active duty was Operation Telic 9 - Iraq, in the city of Basrah. The tour was non stop, from the moment we landed to the moment we left it was contact after contact. I lost a lot of colleagues on that tour, two of which I was very close too, I don't think even to this day I've mourned them properly, I suppose it's my way of dealing with things (coping mechanism).
After the tour I realised I wasn't the same person who left 7 months previously, I found myself becoming restless, struggling with flash backs, nightmares and night terrors. I started to drink more than I ever had and fighting whenever the opportunity arose. I kept myself busy I completed my JNCO Cadre, found myself being posted to the recruiting team, whilst there I passed Junior Brecon and was sent back to battalion before another tour of Herrick in 2013.
Herrick was a lot easier of a tour. We had sticky situations of course but no where near as bad as Telic 9, again I found myself volunteering to do other stuff - ie train medics or work alongside Americans, booking courses so I could plan and keep busy. It wasn't really until 2016 when I had literally done every course available and been on countless exercises, Kenya, Belize and so on that my wife said enough is enough - you either get help or we split up.
I understood I had changed, I had ruined so many relationships through drinking, fighting, isolating myself or letting people down too many times. I made the decision to speak with the Medical Officer and broke down. I felt a huge burden lift from my shoulders that day, I was sent home for a month, I returned to meet the MO and given a few options, soldier on, move corps or look at leaving the Army.
I was medically discharged in 2017. It wasn't until I was on a course in Tedworth House (H4H) that I learnt about Supporting Wounded Veterans, I had been skiing a few times with my wife but never with a group of like-minded Veterans who all had different injuries.
I was unemployed at the time, finding a job was difficult, so I applied, half expecting to be told better luck next time, expecting it to be like most charities, unless you know someone there you don't normally get a place. This time round I did and was asked to do a Skype call with the committee members. I got a place on the 2017 Ski Week in the most amazing surroundings you will ever see in Klosters, Switzerland.
The Ski Week itself was one of the best weeks of my life.
The fresh air, the amazing ski runs, being surrounded by Veterans with similar issues, the Buddies, the committee and board members, I loved every minute of it, and returned home motivated and up for looking for work. SWV suggested that I make use of my contacts, I did and ended up with a job at JLR moving on to the DHL supply chain, (I introduced SWV to my contact and that has helped a couple of other Vets get work).
I applied to be on the Vet's Help Desk for the following year of 2018.
Again I was very lucky and blessed to be selected, I love nothing more than helping people, even more so if they're Veterans, so it was a no brainer when given the opportunity to come back and experience it from a different angle.
My partner in crime on the help desk that week has created a friendship which to this day is very strong. We communicate weekly whether it be about Liverpool or Chelsea, or even just to have a moan about stuff! The chance to be part of a week away on the slopes of Klosters is priceless and the relationships you create are second to none.
Since then, in 2021 I left my role at JLR / DHL after 5 years of learning how to adapt to civi street and how such businesses work and operate on a daily basis. Covid wasn't kind to the motor manufacturing industry and I found myself feeling very confused and low as the environment become very toxic.
I left to take over as a warehouse manager of Meyer Ltd. This was a step up as it's more of a Senior Manager's role, but I've found my military experience and time in JLR / DHL has allowed me to settle in to the new role without any hiccups.