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Richard joined the Royal Engineers in September 1989, completed 25 years service and reached the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2). Whilst in the Army, Richard saw operational duty in Bosnia (1996), Iraq (2003) and Afghanistan (2002; 2009 and 2013).
Richard was medically discharged due to his PTSD in March 2015.
On his last tour of Afghanistan Richard was part of the Military Stabilisation Support Group working with Afghan contractors to build facilities for the ANA/ANP (Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police).
Richard lost colleagues and civilian workers whilst on operational tours in Afghanistan.
Richard also spent time as a Mine Awareness Instructor and was deployed to Africa and Colombia teaching individuals humanitarian de-mining skills as part of a United Nations humanitarian programme. Richard found the work challenging teaching through interpreters, but very rewarding.
In November 2013 Richard was diagnosed with PTSD as a result of his experiences during his second tour of Afghanistan in 2009/10. Richard was aware of his mental ill health however he felt he should ‘man-up’ as he was worried about the impact of his mental health on his career. Richard felt he wanted to be deployed to Afghanistan again to ‘prove himself’.
Following his discharge from the Army in March 2015, and for a period of 4 months, Richard worked for Bureau-Veritas, a Health Safety and Environment Quality Assurance company. This role was secured with the support of the Recovery Career Services (RCS). Richard was an interim property manager however he felt he wasn’t mentally prepared for the position and so he made the decision to leave.
Richard decided to take a few months away from seeking employment to give himself some time to deal with leaving the Army and try to adjust to life as a civilian. In November 2015 he returned to the RCS and was subsequently successfully interviewed by Interserve and is now working as a Community Benefit & Armed Forces Engagement Manager.
Richard said his new job is fantastic. His boss understands his PTSD and is fully supportive. Part of Richards’ role is armed forces engagement. He shares his story which helps to break down barriers. He also finds it therapeutic as he doesn’t have to hide his PTSD. Richard regularly briefs contractors on the skill-set of ex-service personnel and Army trades to try and inform potential employers of the benefits of employing former service personnel.
Richard admits that following his discharge from the Army he was ‘all over the place’. Richard was referred to Walking With The Wounded’s Head Start programme via Combat Stress. Head Start were able to engage Richard with a private therapist who delivered EMDR (Eye Movement and Desensitisation Therapy) and Compassion Focussed CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).
Richard said his therapist was the ‘last port of call’ and that ‘Walking With The Wounded caught me’.
Richard said “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 is now able to have conversations about his mental health. He is happy to talk about his PTSD and is very open at telling people. He admits that he struggles every day but he is able to use the tools regularly and he feels more like himself. Richard said it feels cathartic to be able to talk about his PTSD. He wants to encourage other people to share their stories. He said ‘I was ashamed, but I am not now”.
Richard believes that now he is talking about his PTSD the conversation generates understanding. He said that having the right tools [to deal with mental health issues] could help so many soldiers.
Richard said: “Walking With The Wounded came into my life when I needed them the most. The support of the charity and the therapist is the reason why I am here today”
He continued “There is more beyond PTSD…all you need is for someone to take a ‘punt’ on veterans [to realise their potential and worth]”.