Life on the line: Mental health in the Army - Pt. 15

After getting in contact with a veteran, I received a 17-page document that detailed his extensive career and prolonged issues with mental health.

This is his story.

Life on the line: Mental health in the Army - Pt. 15

The first three CREs are four weeks in total with a week here and there, so I lost over a month of my remaining time doing mandatory courses I should have already been put through. On the third course, I got warning that I'd be out at the end of May, and the imminent Christmas break meant booking resettlement courses would have to wait until the New Year.

There was one more course I found out about while on the CREs – Battleback. It's a week in the grounds of a stately home near Lilleshall in Staffordshire. The facility is shared with a few of the GB Olympic, Paralympic and Invictus teams, and the Royal British Legion. They take physically and mentally impaired folk like myself and get us to try adapted sports. We did a multitude of sporting activities, such as indoor rock climbing and caving (yes indoor caving!), canoeing, archery, wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, fishing and so forth. The emphasis was to show that just because life has changed, it doesn't mean you have to give up doing activities you enjoy. It's augmented by group chats and mentors to allow you to learn techniques to relax and find inner peace.

Strangely, the thing I took away with me was the fishing. I don't know of any other activity where I feel as at peace with myself as I do when sat by the water's edge, just taking in the view and relaxing. I've had days where I catch nothing and really have no problem with that - it's better than any massage or spa treatment.

I finally completed my final CRE at the start of February, and decided I needed to get serious about this resettlement malarkey. The courses are picked from a poorly designed website that doesn't really make searching easy. I was looking for something in the property maintenance theme, and wasn't not coming up with anything. On talking to someone whose job it was to sort this kind of thing, it seemed terms like 'Plasterer' would get no results, while 'Plastering' would find pull up relevant courses.

I found a couple I wanted to try, rang up the learning provider and found in February most were booking for August, but I would be leaving in May. This was a problem. As medically discharged people get far less time to leave the army, I wasn't going to get the opportunity to do what I was entitled to. Had I just got bored and chose to leave, 12 months would have taken me through to mid-October, which was plenty of time. Had I not needed to use six weeks of my time completing courses I should have been put on earlier, things might have been a bit different, but this was the hand I'd been dealt.

However, the bloke showing me to interrogate the world's most dysfunctional search engine offered me a lifeline.


Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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