Natalie's story

I joined the Army aged 20, in April 2001. I served for 5 years, during which I was deployed to Iraq for 8 months working within the Weapons Intelligence Section, investigating IED’s.

I left the Army in 2006 and joined the emergency services. Serving as an operational officer within a civilian environment, I immediately identified that my deployment to Iraq had effected my mental health. I sought out CBT to help develop coping mechanism for the triggers identified and at that point was happy that I had left the Army seemingly unscathed.

In November 2017, while working on Bonfire Night, my vehicle was ambushed by fireworks, which triggered my PTSD. Although I had earlier identified coping mechanisms to deal with the actual fireworks on the night, I had not identified coping mechanisms to deal with the fact the Army could still effect my mental health so long after my service.

In the months that followed, my mental health deteriorated so much that I was considering suicide.

Despite being part of a large Government organisation, the support available was not suitable for veterans and as I was not physically injured during my Army service, I did not think that I was eligible for the support of veteran charities and did not want to waste valuable resources.

In February 2018, my best friend who had previously attended the Ski Week with SWV identified that I was at my lowest point and convinced me to seek support from an EFT counsellor used by SWV and to make contact with SWV to see if there was any long term support available.

In March 2019, I attended the Ski Week in Switzerland, continued EFT counselling and was assigned a mentor who I am still in contact with.

As a result of the EFT, I established coping mechanisms to deal with the emotional impacts of my Army service and it has provided me with the tools to deal with difficult situations since.

I was unsure what to expect from the mentoring scheme, but its impact has been invaluable for me. The routine and structure of having informal meetings with someone who I would not normal engage with has led to a significant increase in my confidence and self-esteem.

I made the decision to engage with the charity as much as possible and as a result my mental health is probably the best it’s been in a very long time and I now feel that I have the emotional tools to maintain that moving forward. The changes made also gave me the self-belief to seek, and achieve promotion at work, switching roles to improve my work life balance.

Natalie's story