Mark's Story

‘The suffering and grief, was a nightmare, I remember sitting in hospital and thinking ‘what am I doing here, the Army isn’t for me anymore.’

Mark joined the RLC aged 21 and after he had completed his training at Winchester and Deepcut, he was posted to Germany. It was here, whilst completing his Physical Training Instructor course (PTI), that Mark snapped his tibia and therefore missed his unit’s deployment out to the war in Afghanistan.

One day, whilst he was in hospital recovering from an operation to repair his leg, he watched the television news and heard that his best mate had been killed by an IED. Mark contacted his mate’s mother and pregnant girlfriend and together they shared the grief from this tragic and sudden loss. 

Mark eventually made a full recovery, but the doubts remained in his mind and although he tried his best to get on with it, in his heart he had lost interest and motivation. He managed to get transferred back to the UK but he had started to drink heavily and to have seizures and panic attacks. At first, he was too scared to talk to anyone or ask for help and when he did finally go forward and speak out, he was branded a ‘waste of space’.

Eventually, in 2012, Mark signed off and left the military, but no sooner had he done so, than he started to have doubts and regrets and he couldn’t cope with civilian life. The only way he could get through the day, was to drink and he found reasons not to go out and caused arguments at home to avoid leaving the house. To make things worse, he had also started to obsessively watch military ‘firefight’ videos (footage of actual combat situations recorded live by troops in action) on YouTube and he became increasingly isolated and aggressive.

‘I started to self-harm. I cut myself and felt a relief in the pain … to share in the pain that I inflicted every day on everyone around me. My family and friends tried to help but they couldn’t, and I made them all suffer.’

Mark has a young daughter who he absolutely adores and so unsurprisingly, his partner was desperate for him to go and get help so that they could remain together as a family. When he did eventually go to hospital, staff mentioned social services and, worried that his daughter would get taken into care, he walked out immediately.

Eventually, his relationship broke down. He turned against everyone and didn’t even go to see his daughter for weeks at a time. He slept rough, out in the fields in the middle of winter, not caring if he survived the night.

When Mark lost his driving licence through drink driving, the probation office helped Mark to find accommodation and to receive benefits. They also put Mark in touch with the Northumberland Recovery Partnership (NRP) but he had to be dry to receive their help and he just couldn’t do it as he was so physically dependent on alcohol.

Desperate and frustrated with his situation, one day Mark held a knife to his throat and threatened to kill himself – it was a cry for help - the Police came and he was referred to the NCCP programme at WWTW.

‘WWTW understand the military and they know how to help. Simon knew it was really hard for me but he persisted and got me a place on the veteran’s rehab programme at Tom Harrison House. I did it for my daughter and it was brilliant, I was there for 3 months, and now I’ve been dry since April.’

Simon then helped Mark to access the second stage rehab abstinence programme provided by the NHS Oaktrees and he is currently participating in regular, online patient meetings.

Mark knows exactly what he wants to do next and plans to use his own experiences to help others. He intends to pursue a career in Mental Health and Counselling and WWTW are helping him access the right courses to set him on the road to a new career. He has restored contact with his partner, family and friends and when Mark is ready, he will explain to them what he has been through and how he is rebuilding his life.

Find out more about how we support those who served. 

Walking with the Wounded offers support to veterans looking to get back into employment. We have supported many veterans into employment as can be seen in our case studies. Veterans charities like Help for heroes offer similar services.