Military service can have an intense impact on anyone who serves their country. When Shaun left the Army, exhaustion paralysed his ability to operate in civilian life. But thanks to therapist Anna and Walking With The Wounded’s Head Start Mental Health programme, Shaun’s now thriving with a new career and dedication to his family. 

“When I first left the Army I felt lost and alone, I had no support network, friends or colleagues and I became totally isolated.”

Shaun, military veteran and WWTW beneficiary

Struggling to forget the horrors of war

Shaun returned to civilian life, and in 2016 he started his own business working incredibly long hours under intense stress. With a baby daughter in the home, and the memories of the events of Afghanistan, Shaun’s sleep was continuously disturbed and he would wake up 10 to 15 times a night having nightmares, standing disorientated in the room, hearing children screaming.

A prisoner of his own past

Shaun found it almost impossible to deal with his infant daughter’s crying, and it brought on regular panic attacks. He was unable to sleep himself until he knew she was safe and asleep, and one event in particular showed how much Shaun needed support. Taking his young daughter to the local park, Shaun experienced extreme and irrational anxiety about her safety. He was convinced that she was going to die. Again, he froze, unable to react. After this incident, Shaun’s mental health declined to a state where he was unable to go to the park again. Before long, he was unable to leave the house.

Finding a way forward

Shaun’s family were increasingly worried about the changes in Shaun’s mental health, and could see he needed practical, focussed support to help him cope and recover from what he’d experienced during his time with the Army.

In January 2018 Shaun began seeing his Walking With The Wounded therapist, Anna, who immediately recognised that Shaun was suffering from exhaustion. Trying to be a dedicated partner and loving dad with intense work commitments, while still haunted by his military experiences was having a huge impact on his wellbeing.

“After my first session with Anna, I could not believe what happened, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted. Over time, things gradually improved and the nightmares and the sound of children screaming stopped.”

Shaun, military veteran and WWTW beneficiary

Coming to terms with what you've been through

Being able to understand what was happening for the first time in years was a huge relief for Shaun. He began to learn how to process emotions and come to terms with what he was going through. This was the first step for Shaun on his journey to recovery, and over the next nine months, he and Anna worked together to understand what was happening and to find a tailored way forward to help Shaun.

They completed 14 sessions of therapy, exploring Shaun’s experiences and behaviours, and using EMDR (Eye Movement, Desensitization & Reprocessing), to help him process what had happened, manage his commitments and enjoy life once again.

“You have to believe and trust in the process, the therapy I received was outstanding. I now understand myself better and know how to deal and cope with difficult situations. I still struggle with some areas but I know they are a work in progress – it will come in time.”

Shaun, military veteran and WWTW beneficiary

“I can't thank WWTW enough”

Shaun today is so much closer to where he wants to be with his life. He runs his own successful gym and is the Director of Chamber Health and Wellbeing. And through his time with Head Start he has also become a successful Life Coach, advising people who may also need support to move forward.

But more than this, as a direct result of his time with Walking With The Wounded, Shaun now feels like a normal dad. He loves the time he has playing with his children. And has finally been able to take his daughter back to the park.

Your support changes lives

Walking With The Wounded have supported veterans like Shaun since 2010 with bespoke mental health, employment support and support care coordination. For those who have served their country and need help finding their place after service, Walking With The Wounded provides essential services that save lives.

Please support our work by donating today.