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‘Thanks to Walking With The Wounded, I went from being unemployed and unhappy to having a job, earning a wage and living life again. ’
At the age of 18, Stewart found life wasn’t great, he didn’t like his job and there were few prospects where he lived. One evening he told his parents, ‘I’m not going to work tomorrow. I’m going to join up’ They didn’t believe me, but I did it.’
He’d always wanted to learn how to drive so he joined the Royal Transport Corps and was trained how to drive various vehicles including HGVs. During his 12 year service he transported military equipment in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Belgium, Kuwait, Iraq and Germany.
It was after his tour of Iraq that Stewart started to experience symptoms of PTSD including flashbacks and nightmares:
‘It was the sight of bodies inside red-hot, burning vehicles. I would think, ‘I wonder if that person has a wife and kids waiting at home, just like me?’ Of course, in those days PTSD wasn’t recognised and you just had to get on with it.’
In 1992, Stewart was based in Germany with his family but experienced problems accessing secondary education for his eldest daughter. He applied for a voluntary discharge so that they could return home to England.
Back in civilian life, Stewart ran a successful painting and decorating business for over 20 years but it was after he sadly lost those closest to him in very quick succession that his life went ‘off the rails’ and he was unable to work or cope emotionally.
After some time working through his grief and recovering, Stewart started to get agitated – he knew it wasn’t healthy to be stuck at home and that he needed to occupy his time, to get back to work and earn a living.
Stewart started the WWTW Employment Programme in May 2019. He met his Employment Advisor, Jon, and attended weekly employability workshops. Jon helped him with his CV, to undertake job searches and write covering letters. Jon was impressed with Stewart’s determination and enthusiasm and quickly found him a job opportunity working as a driver and maintenance man at a local care home.
‘My Advisor, Jon, was an absolute star. Within an hour of first meeting him, I had a nice CV prepared and he’d got me an email address set up. He then got me an interview and even drove me to the appointment.’
In June 2019, Stewart went for an interview at Livability Treetops care home and was offered the job on the spot. He was so pleased and grateful to them for giving him this opportunity and now really enjoys going to work and being part of a team. Since starting work, his health has improved and his confidence and happiness have grown tenfold.
‘My Employment Advisor bent over backwards to help and still keeps in touch to offer support. I can’t fault him, he’s all heart.’