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Leon joined the Army at the age of sixteen and spent nearly 10 years in the Welsh Guards. He was deployed to Iraq (2005), Bosnia (2007) and Afghanistan (2009). On return from operational duty in Afghanistan Leon was diagnosed with PTSD. He had therapy from 2010 – 2011 at Aldershot Medical Centre and following this went on sick leave and, in 2012, continued his therapy by seeing a psychiatrist at MoD St Athan in Wales. This therapy continued until Leon was medically discharged in April 2013.
Leon is not having any ongoing treatment and has learned coping strategies which he uses to control his PTSD.
Since leaving the Army Leon has been in various jobs (including the marquees and events industry) but couldn’t settle into a job he really enjoyed. Before joining the Army, Leon helped his uncle with basic bricklaying and he decided it would be a good career choice for him after leaving.
In 2014 Leon contacted Walking With The Wounded and secured funding via the First Steps programme for his City & Guilds Level II Diploma in Bricklaying. Due to his previous experience Leon was able to start an intensive bricklaying course in October 2014, which he passed with distinction.
Persimmon Homes were able to offer Leon a Bricklaying Apprenticeship which he started in January 2015. Leon realised that the apprenticeship would be worthwhile investment to enable him to become a fully qualified bricklayer.
Leon received his ‘Blue Card’ and became qualified in February 2016 and achieved his goal of becoming self-employed. Leon continued to work with Persimmon Homes as a self-employed contractor, until he secured work with a Construction firm in Cardiff who specialise in the design and construction of buildings both nationally and internationally.
Being an apprentice has helped Leon come ‘out of his shell’ more as he used to keep himself to himself but he is now integrating back into civilian life. It has been a big adjustment but the course and his apprenticeship gave Leon his confidence back.
Leon also took part in the DIY SOS Veterans Big Build in 2015. Persimmon Homes allowed him to spend a week on site assisting with the build.
Leon admits that he has had a few ‘wobbles’ since leaving the Army and his PTSD does cause some problems at times but his coping strategies help him. He also has all the normal ‘life’ worries that come with having a family but he has the 'determination not to give in' and succeed in life.
Leon was awarded the University of Derby Online Learning Award for Excellence Demonstrated in the Face of Adversity During the Resettlement Process at the 2016 Nationwide Resettlement Awards (November).
Leon said “Walking With The Wounded have helped me feel more confident in my own self and in my ability. I am looking forward to being able to provide for my family properly, and being self-employed will help me do this.”