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 - Paul SSBD

Small Steps Big Differences

Paul's story is a testament to the importance of receiving the right help and support - through the care and resolve of loved ones; through expert medical treatment; and most recently, through the guidance that helped him return to the workplace and into a new and rewarding career.

Paul served for 23 years in the RAF, mainly in the Bomb Disposal Unit, but his job exposed him to prolonged danger and repeated traumatic events, and his mental health suffered as a result. 

In 1996, at the age of 22, Paul joined 14 Squadron RAF as a Weapon’s Technician and worked on Tornado combat aircraft - a job that he thoroughly enjoyed and that took him all over the world.

A few years later, he successfully applied to train to become a Bomb Disposal Technician and transferred to 5131 Bomb Disposal Squadron. In 2003, on day 1 of the Iraq conflict, Paul was deployed to Kuwait as part of the Joint Services Bomb Disposal Group.

During Paul’s first tour, he started to experience panic attacks and he was sent back to the UK with suspected Acute Stress Reaction.

As a committed team member, he felt guilty and ashamed that he had left his colleagues and he asked to be sent back to Iraq to re-join his unit. The second and third tours followed and Paul was exposed to further trauma and started to suffer from anxiety and depression and to experience intense and disturbing flashbacks.

To try to hide the symptoms of PTSD and to manage his mental health, Paul self-medicated with increased amounts of alcohol.

Paul attempted to improve his well-being and he left his career in Bomb Disposal in 2013, but his mental health continued to decline until sadly, he attempted suicide. His wife, who also served in the RAF, insisted that he sought medical help and for the next 4 years, Paul received outstanding therapy and support from the DCMH (Department of Community Mental Health).

Paul was on an enormous high until he was notified that he was being discharged from the RAF on medical grounds.

It was at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and he knew that he wanted to help during a difficult time for the NHS - he decided that a hospital porter role would be ideal. However, he needed support and reassurance and so he decided to contact WWTW and was put in touch with Chris Carlise, an Employment Advisor.

Chris quickly recognised that Paul wasn’t ready to return to full-time work and together they decided that a part-time volunteer role would be the best initial course of action. It would also give Paul the opportunity to see if the job suited him. Chris provided Paul with all the information and guidance that he needed to apply to be a volunteer for the NHS.

Read more of Paul's story here.