Read their story
“I was fortunate enough to be selected for the 2015 veterans’ ski week just a few months after my medical discharge from the Army. I had learnt to ski in the Army and I loved it. Yet to get to do it again, post injury, and with other veterans was a real challenge. I found my medical discharge a tortuous experience which compounded my complex PTSD. One particular consequence of this process was to alienate me from a life of service which for over 15 years and 4 operational tours had become my world, my anchor and my bearing. I felt disconnected and ashamed. However, I had given my word so despite my fears I committed myself to a week in Klosters.
It took me most of the week to sit at breakfast with the other veterans, on the evenings out I sat at the quiet table and avoided talking about what was really going on in my head. However, over the course of the week I realised that the other veterans were pretty much just like me. We encouraged each other, accepted each other and laughed a lot. The patience of the ski buddies and support staff paid dividends. I began to trust that they understood. By the end of the week I had made a few friends. My recovery had started a new and exciting chapter.
Shortly after returning home I was appointed a SWV mentor. She has been working with me now for the last 8 years supporting me through two very lengthy inpatient admissions in a psychiatric hospital, a divorce, years and years of more therapy, and a whole lot of poor choices and questionable behaviour. She reminded me to invest in my recovery and to take ownership of it. It is impossible to put into words how much having a mentor has helped me. It really is the jewel in the SWV crown. At my worst it kept me in the game and at my best it propelled me further than I dared imagine. Now I am an Ambassador for the charity. What a transformation from a veteran so high and dependant on over-prescribed psychiatric and pain medication to a nationally exhibiting contemporary artist with the occasional good idea for the charity.
I have remained connected with other veterans, am life-long friends with my ski buddies and many others I have met through the charity. I have overcome the skull crushing shame and continue to make good progress on all fronts. It is never easy. There is no miracle. But, I am off medication, have support and friendship from people who take the time to understand, and day by day, I build upon yesterday’s success as I strive to make my living as an artist. I haven’t given up."