Grenadier Walk of Oman - Resilience and renewal
“Some of the best, most interesting people I know, are those men and women who have had to overcome adversity,” said Inge Solheim, who guided Walking With The Wounded’s North and South Pole expeditions.
He was filming a personal video as a generous touch of support to the daughter of one of our longstanding supporters.
Each of our Walk of Oman team has had to face adversity and find their own way forwards. And are now inspiring others with their actions.
“Having something to focus on and a sense of purpose whilst being sat at home on sick leave has helped with my mental health and given me direction in a difficult time,” said Ben Gallagher, the newest and youngest member of the team.
In January 2019, while on active duty, Ben was shot numerous times and received blast/fragmentation injuries to both arms and upper torso – changing his life.
“Without a doubt, my body armour saved my life,” said the 33-year-old who joined the Royal Signals in 2005 and deployed all over the world in a successful military career until it was cut short.
“I was admitted to hospital and underwent a number of lengthy surgeries to debride my wounds and reconstruct my left arm with tendon, nerve and skin grafts. I sustained hearing problems and now have surgical injuries to both legs.
“This was a hard time. I felt lost, isolated and left wondering where to turn and how to accept these life changing circumstances.
“I couldn’t come to terms with what had happened, I was very emotional and had suicidal ideations, alongside constantly asking myself “why me?”
“I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, something I now live with and am learning to manage.
While undergoing therapy Ben reached out to help and support others embarking on amazing journeys and through a fellow ex-serviceman learned about the work of Walking With The Wounded and the Grenadier Walk of Oman.
“Despite the delay to the Walk of Oman, and change in location to the UK due to Covid, the walk will still give me the focus and direction I need,” he said. “And it will crucially raise awareness and funds for others to be supported through Walking With The Wounded’s employment and mental health programmes.
“There is something about being around injured veterans; their courage, purpose, comradeship, selfless commitment, humour and humility are qualities that show continuous drive regardless of injury or illness.”
Ben and the team are now on Day 2, covering 20km across Herefordshire, which has strong connections to the military – and the team are settling into their rhythm.
“I hope sharing my story as part of this expedition will help others dealing with complex trauma come to terms with adversity, understand resilience and overcome injuries, be they ex-military or civilian,” he added.
Most significantly, the 21st October, the last day of the walk, is Ben’s last day of service.
“Having been through a difficult time I realised that it is important to make the most of your life and understand that yes I have injuries but I am not going to let them define me, proving that physical disability is no barrier to achievement.
“I aim to influence those dealing with mental and physical injuries to think beyond the conventional and not let their circumstances limit their ambition. Resilience, optimism and determination are qualities that have highlighted my consistent drive to succeed.
“As we get to London I will literally be starting a new chapter, employed by Avanti Communications. One in which my skills as a veteran are valued and being put to good use.”
Find out how Walking With The Wounded support veterans and their families with mental health issues in partnership with the NHS.