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Help for Heroes reveals thousands of wounded veterans are struggling with mental health crisis

The survey included results from over 2,000 veterans, over half agreed their mental health had deteriorated during the pandemic

Veteran charity Help For Heroes has released findings from recent research which found more than 80 percent of veterans with long term health conditions struggle to sleep every night.

The charity surveyed over 2,000 veterans in June 2021 and the findings revealed further concerning statistics.

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At A Glance: 5 Key Points

  • Nearly three in four veterans (73 percent) with permanent health conditions struggle with their mental well being on a daily basis. 
  • The same number reported frequently suffering with long-term pain.
  • More than eight in 10 have difficulty sleeping every night.
  • 60 percent of those living with a long-term health condition said they believed their physical state worsened during the pandemic. 
  • More than half (52 percent) reported that their mental health had deteriorated during the pandemic.

What’s been said?

Several veterans have now shared their stories of how support from the charity has improved their physical and mental health.

Former infantry soldier and Yorkshire father-of-two Ben Bainbridge, 30, has shared his story of how the charity helped him through adapting to a life altering injury.

Ben Bainbridge, with daughters Ellie and Arie (Picture: PA)

After his leg was shattered by an Afghanistan explosion 12 years ago, he was put in a coma but has since been able to walk again and has two daughters, Ellie, 11, and Ariel, seven.

He is now set to walk down the aisle to marry his fiancee, Steph Dunn, after receiving a new leg brace from the charity.

“It has been tough, there are a lot of things I struggle to do, like being able to go on a long walk with our dog. I’m not ashamed of my foot but I’m looking forward to walking up the aisle and having people stare at me for the right reasons,” he said.

Another infantry soldier who has shared his story is John Newcombe, who served for 34 years before he was injured in a blast in Northern Ireland in the 1980s has since developed multiple sclerosis.

Now 58, he uses a wheelchair and is losing the use of his hands, but is determined to complete a 1,000-kilometre journey from the Lancashire coast to raise money for Help for Heroes.

Before he was injured he ran from Bosnia to Britain to raise funds for Children in Need.

Mr Newcombe said of the charity: “People take the simplest things for granted, being able to stand, talking to people face-to-face, a proper hug.

“Help for Heroes came along and I can do all those things again.”

Royal Navy veteran David Street, 42, said he still has nightmares about serving in Afghanistan as a gunner, where he was deployed the day after the Twin Towers attacks on 11 September 2021.

David, of Plymouth, suffered injuries to his left knee and lower back, leaving him with permanent pain, reliant on a walking stick, and PTSD.

Help for Heroes of Royal Navy veteran David Street said he still has nightmares about serving in Afghanistan as a gunner, (Picture: PA)

He said: “The mental side of it is hard. Every bang can trigger something. I’m constantly on edge, I don’t want to sleep. I can’t rest.”

On recent developments in Afghanistan, he said: “A lot of us veterans are feeling worthless, and what was the point of 20 years of conflict in that country? Seeing it now is awful.”

But Mr Street said that Help for Heroes had supported him in overcoming mental health struggles and feeling connected with a “family of veterans”.

Former Royal Signals communications operator Rob Jennings suffers with sleep deprivation along with PTSD, panic attacks and health and social anxiety after being deployed in Bosnia, where he was on guard from 1am until 3am every night.

Former Royal Signals Communications Operator Rob Jennings suffers with sleep deprivation along with PTSD (Picture: PA)

The 50-year-old veteran from Leeds, West Yorkshire, said: “By the age of 24 I had three military medals and felt valued for my service, but after mental health difficulties and being medically discharged from the forces I felt worthless.

“However, by interacting with support services, I have created a full-time job that is simply looking after myself and making sure that I get through each day constructively, one day at a time.”

Background

The charity surveyed 2,201 veterans who previously or currently serve in the British Armed Forces.

Veterans can access support from the charity by calling the helpline on 0300 303 9888.

Mr Newcombe’s fundraising page for his 1,000km challenge can be found here