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Richard joined Army in 1989 and successfully reached the
rank of Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2). He completed 25-years’ service with the
Royal Engineers and saw operational duty in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
On his final tour Richard lost many colleagues and civilian co-workers, and in November 2013 he was diagnosed with PTSD as a result of his experiences. Richard knew he was struggling with his mental health, but felt he should ‘man-up’. He didn’t want his mental health to impact his career but wanted to ‘prove himself’. It wasn’t until March 2015 that Richard was medically discharged due to his PTSD and he left the Army.
Richard struggled with the transition into civilian life. He secured a good job with the RecoveryCareer Services (RCS), but found tough to cope with mentally so made the decision to take a few months away from employment to give himself time to process his leaving the Army.
Without his career, Richard was ‘all over the place’ and was subsequently referred to Walking With The Wounded’s mental health programme, HeadStart, via Combat Stress. Head Start was able to put Richard in contact with a private therapist.
“Head Start has been fantastic – the provision of funding saved me, really. I was in a really bad place but my therapist has helped give me the tools to help me cope.” - Richard
Since seeing a therapist Richard is now able to talk openly about his mental health. He admits that he still struggles, but he now has the tools to cope and feels more like himself.
“I was ashamed, but I’m not anymore. I want to encourage other veterans to share their own stories,” says Richard. He believes that talking about PTSD and mental health generates vital understanding. “There is more beyond PTSD…all you need is for someone to take a punt on veterans [to realise their potential and worth],” he continues.
In November 2015, Richard returned to the RCS and began working as a Community Benefit & Armed Forces Engagement Manager. He loves his new job and finds that sharing his story with others helps to break down some of his own barriers. His boss understands his PTSD and very supportive.