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I joined the Army as a specialist driver in the Royal Logistics Corps (RLC) in 2006 as a specialist driver. Within a few years, I had completed an operational tour of Iraq. After a few more years driving, I changed my trade to Logistic Specialist. During my time in the Army I was lucky enough to be involved with a lot of sport and as a result, I got to travel whilst competing.
Sadly, during the last few years in the Army, I suffered lung problems which led to a medical discharge.
I found the transition to civilian life very hard, particularly as I had a restrictive medical condition.
I had started to find daily life a real challenge to the point where I was struggling to leave the house. I withdrew into myself and would hardly talk to anyone. I just felt life wasn't worth living. There was no enjoyment anymore in anything & I found myself questioning everything that I did.
I contacted Supporting Wounded Veterans (SWV) because I had heard about the ski week and skiing is one of my great passions. That said, I hadn't been able to ski since my health had deteriorated. I had heard about the charity previously but only about the pain management course. I was at a point in my life where I needed help. I decided to reach out before life became unbearable and I before I contemplated the unthinkable. I chose to be positive and I applied to attend the ski week.
The ski week is hosted in the Swiss resort of Klösters. There is a large team of medical staff there to support the whole group. Doctors, Psychiatrists, Physiotherapists, etc. Each Veteran is placed with a Buddy and a Ski Instructor. I was lucky as my ski group only consisted of two Veterans. I benefited from this as I was uncomfortable with large groups and I just wanted to blend in with the larger group. There were times during the trip where I became uncomfortable. Having like minded people there to support, help and guide me helped me to build my self-confidence, knowing I could push myself and if things went wrong then I had help. Being on the ski week let me see I could still do a sport I truly loved (with some limits due to my lung problems). It helped to reaffirm that I can still be me and not just a person with lung problems and ongoing mental health issues.
Since coming home from the ski week I have gained the confidence to throw myself into things I wouldn’t have thought possible before contacting SWV.
After the ski week I was assigned a Mentor which I benefited from massively. It was good just to have that extra listening ear or that extra push when I wasn’t sure I could do something. My Mentor was also there during lockdown which was a massive help because I felt I was starting to slip back into what I was like before the ski week.
I was also lucky enough to be funded for ten sessions of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). This enabled me to have a tool to help me calm down in stressful situations.
Since being on the ski week, from being really reserved and just wanting to stay home all the time and avoid people, I now throw myself into activities that I enjoy. I joined my local theatre group and I even managed to perform in the Christmas Panto. That wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t been on the ski week with SWV.
I’ve also changed my choice in career to animal care, something I am very passionate about. Within the last year I’ve applied to go back to college. I have just completed a course which will now enable me to go onto the HND level this year. Also during the last year I have started to volunteer working on two different farms, one with sheep and the other with Alpacas. I also volunteer at Edinburgh Zoo as a Visitor Engagement Volunteer. I have done this as a result of the confidence I gained after attending the SWV ski week.
I have found a sport I can be involved in that has given me my competitive edge back. The team is named “The Wounded Highlanders.” It is a team of wounded Veterans who compete in Highland Games. I have trained with them a lot and I attend my first big official event in a couple of weeks.