Supporting Our Wounded Into Work

Raising funds to retrain and re-skill our wounded and support them in finding new careers outside the Military. You can help by making a donation or fundraising for the charity.

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run 2016

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London to Brighton Veteran Car Run 2016

 

On 6th November 2016, 4 wounded veterans from the UK and US will compete in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run 2016, driving a 1903 Clément. The team will be raising funds to help our wounded, injured and sick veterans through their often challenging transition into civilian life. You can read more about the work which WWTW does here.

The team, 2 of whom have been supported by our Home Straight programme and 2 from the US, selected in collaboration with the Bob Woodruff Foundation will undertake in depth training on the veteran car, enabling them to drive the vehicle from London to Brighton with no ‘experts’ on hand on the day. The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run is a 56 mile run from Hyde Park in London to Brighton, with over 400 vehicles taking part. Historically only 70% of starters complete the run. 2 million people come out to line the route, so do join us on the day to wave the team to the finish!

Watch the team training in Yorkshire and hear more about their backgrounds here:


The Team:

Sarah Rudder

Regiment: United States Marine

Home town: Currently lives in Temecula California. I was raised in Lancashire England where my parents still reside.

Injury: Left leg amputation, Traumatic Brain Injury, PTSD, broken scapula, broken nose, and broken rib.

Sarah was first stationed at Perris Island and was healing from a small fracture in her left foot. She was able to master all of the necessary drills on crutches, and went into the field on crutches several times where she worked on tactical training. Sarah was transferred to Bethesda Maryland for a second opinion on her leg in order to fight a medical discharge which she felt was unnecessary. She was then transferred to Headquarters Marine Corps for a second opinion. Sarah was eventually medically discharged December 31 2002. In late August she was involved in a very serious car accident when she was air lifted to the hospital. Whilst recovering from her injuries, she was being promoted on September 11,2001. Roughly 30 minutes after her promotion at The Pentagon, it was hit. Sarah aided survivors exiting the building and on the second day entered the Pentagon to pull non survivors out. While pulling a non survivor from the building, she stepped in a hole and concrete closed in on my leg over the top of the same left ankle. She pulled it out and continued her mission for 24 hours. Due to severe damage and after several complicated surgeries and severe and lasting nerve damage, Sarah’s leg was subsequently amputated.

Craig Wheatley

Regiment: 1st Battalion Scots Guards

Home town: Aldershot

Craig joined the 1st Battalion Scots Guards (Army infantry regiment) in 1987 and left in 1998 after completing 11 years service, and was a Lance Corporal at the time of discharge. During his career he served in Germany (1988 – 1993), Canada, Cyprus (a 4 month tour), 4 tours of Northern Ireland (1989, 1992, 1994, 1996) and also the Gulf War (Jan – April 1991). Whilst in the Army Craig worked on tracked vehicles, support weapons, was part of Mortar Platoon and was trained as a combat medic and in signals.

Craig made the decision to leave the Army as he had recently married and felt that being in the Army may not be conducive to a happy family life due to the regular deployments and time that would need to be spent away from home. In early 2015 Craig passed his PSV/coach licence and began driving coaches for a local coach company in Sandhurst. Craig enjoyed the driving as he felt as though he was ‘his own boss’ but found the job less enjoyable when not driving.

During 2015 Craig’s mental health began to deteriorate, and he admits to being in denial. This resulted in a relationship breakdown with his then partner. Subsequently, Craig ‘disappeared’ and was placed on the Missing Persons register. He spent his time living in a tent but it did not occur to him that this was not ‘normal’ behaviour. Following a chance meeting with a friend, who encouraged Craig to seek help, Craig was referred to SPACES, which is an organisation that supports single ex- service personnel who are at risk of homelessness with accommodation needs. As a result, Craig was offered a place at Mike Jackson House (MJH) in Aldershot. Mike Jackson House is a residence that provides independent accommodation and support for ex-service personnel who find themselves homeless. Craig is receiving support from statutory services for his mental well-being. He is also receiving support from a Speech & Language Therapist for a childhood stammer which returned when his mental health difficulties escalated. This support has helped him manage this. Of his therapist Craig said “she is fantastic and has taught me breathing techniques that help me out when I feel under pressure”. Craig said that in October 2015 he couldn’t hold a full conversation with anyone but now he feels much better, and whilst he finds this frustrating at times, he is able to manage his stammer by using these breathing techniques.

Whilst at Mike Jackson House Craig has attended an introduction to mountain skills adventure training course run by Adventure Quest UK.

As a result of attending the course Craig is exploring employment opportunities that involve working outdoors. Craig is also exploring voluntary work options with his WWTW Employment Advisor as he is interested in supporting the Cadets or the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme.

Craig hopes that his love of the outdoors will lead to a career that incorporates this passion. He feels happy, relaxed and stress free when working outdoors.

Craig said he is feeling very positive at the moment,  “I don’t know where I would be without the support I have received. I hold Mike Jackson House in the highest esteem.”

Craig said that the support he has received from WWTW has improved his confidence ‘ten-fold’. He has been given opportunities to be part of a team but is also able to develop his skills as an individual : “I feel I have been given a purpose and some of the opportunities have been amazing.”

Craig said some of his biggest achievements have been whilst he has been a resident at Mike Jackson House. Craig’s opportunity to meet the Walking With The Wounded ‘Walk of Britain’ expedition team in 2015 (when they visited Mike Jackson House), and his participation and support of the 2016 Cumbrian Challenge event have helped to build his confidence and utilise his organisational skills. Part of this support is access to a Walking With The Wounded Employment Advisor based at the residence.

 

Mark O’Hare

Regiment: Royal Logistics Corps (Lance Corporal (LCpl))

Home town: Weymouth

Mark joined the Army in 1991, serving with the Royal Logistics Corps until he was medically discharged in December 2005. During his service Mark saw operational duty in Northern Ireland and completed 2 two year tours and 2 detachments, one for 6 months and one for 8 months. He also served in Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Iraq where he completed a 7.5 month tour of duty. Following his return from Iraq, and after 14 years service, Mark made the decision to submit his notice to leave the Army. Following his discharge from the Army in December 2005, Mark spent 5 years working as a close protection driver. Following this Mark began working as a self-employed HGV driver. Mark said he enjoyed being his own boss. He continued to do this until 2013.

In 2013 Mark was diagnosed with PTSD which was as a result of his service in Northern Ireland where he was injured in an explosion in 1996,  resulting in injuries to Mark’s back, the dislocation of his knee blast injuries including abdominal damage and internal bleeding.

Mark received support from WWTW’s First Steps programme to fund his Driver CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) Licence which is a legal requirement for anyone wishing to drive a lorry, bus or coach professionally. Mark is now thriving on this work and is enjoying being a part of a professional team again.

Mark is currently living in an Alabaré residence which supports vulnerable individuals who are homeless or who are at risk of becoming homeless. The residence is also supported by a WWTW Employment Advisor.

Alabaré have supported Mark on two occasions over the past two years and his most recent residency began in March 2015. During a period of homelessness Mark spent time living in a forest. He is currently in a ‘move-on’ house which is the next step in Mark’s journey towards regaining his independence.

Mark volunteered to be a driver for the WWTW Walk of Britain expedition in 2015 and was an integral and reliable part of the support crew.

Mark said his biggest achievement is getting over his mental health issues. The support he has received from WWTW has shown him he can do it. Mark said “I feel like I’ve beaten it and can see a way forward. I am also willing to accept help which is something I haven’t been willing to do before”.

 

Ben Kaler

Regiment: 2nd battalion, 4th Marines, United States Marine Corps

Hometown: Boothbay Harbour, Maine, USA

Injury: Shrapnel wounds, partial loss of elbow and tricep, Traumatic Brain Injury

Ben was wounded in action (March 2004) while on a dismounted foot patrol in Ramadi, Iraq by an IED blast. He sustained shrapnel wounds to the left side of his body and severe damage to his left arm, partial loss of elbow and tricep.   Ben was evacuated to Balad, Germany, and Bethesda to undergo multiple surgeries over the course of a month. After a further 8 surgeries, having plates inserted and removed and two years of Occupational Therapy and physiotherapy, Ben was also diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury (TBI)  as result of the blast.

 

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