Donation to Walking with the Wounded First Steps programme: 2015, 2016, 2017
DDMT is immensely proud to have provided a commitment of £5,000 pa for three years from 2015 (a total of £15,000) for the Walking with the Wounded "First Steps" programme which addresses the needs of ex-service personnel suffering with mental injuries and, following necessary therapy, assists veterans into the First Steps employment programme.
Since 2013 many successful employment outcomes for veterans have been achieved. Indeed a report received by DDMT in July 2017 informs that 26 veterans were supported in 2016; and our donation funded courses in becoming a specialist support teacher, a plumber a number of HGV drivers and others either leading to a career or from which employment has been found.
Two recent case studies illustrate the life-changing effect of the programme:
Leon, 31, spent 10 years in the Welsh Guards and saw operational duty in Iraq, Bosnia and Afghanistan. Whilst in Afghanistan, Leon’s platoon was involved in a 360o ambush which resulted in the injury and subsequent death of his Commanding Officer. Leon was diagnosed with PTSD on his return from Afghanistan and as a result was medically discharged from the Army in 2013.
Walking With The Wounded’s First Steps programme funded Leon’s City & Guilds Level II Diploma in Bricklaying, which he passed with distinction in 2014. Leon went on to complete a Bricklaying apprenticeship with Persimmon Homes and became fully qualified in February 2016. Nominated by Walking With The Wounded, Leon was awarded the University of Derby Online Learning Award for Excellence Demonstrated in the Face of Adversity During the Resettlement Process at the 2016 Nationwide Resettlement Awards.
Leon said “I have learned a lot from the apprenticeship and can’t thank WWTW enough for their support in helping me. I am looking forward to being able to provide for my family properly”.
Jon, 42, served 13 years in the Royal Marines [42 and 43 Commando] before leaving in 2007 to pursue an alternative career before, in his words, “he was too old”. Jon completed operational tours in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. One year after discharge, injuries sustained whilst in the Royal Marines began to worsen and Jon was diagnosed with fractures in his lower spine and between his shoulder blades resulting in nerve damage and mobility issues.
With the support of a walking stick and wheelchair where necessary, Jon maintains his independence. He also has an assistance dog, Jester, who Jon says is a good indicator of his lack of stability which raises public awareness.
Walking With The Wounded’s First Steps programme provided funding for 2 years of Jon’s BA (Hons) International Relations and History. Jon achieved a First and has recently graduated. He is actively seeking employment and his ultimate aim is to become a Security Analyst which he hopes will allow him to utilise his previous experience and enable him balance his disability issues with a career.
Jon said: “it is important that whatever I do, I do as well as I possibly can”.
“WWTW have helped me by taking the financial pressure and worry away from my wish to study. I get an enormous sense of wellbeing from studying.”
Earlier: Anam was discharged from the Army in 2012 having suffered a lower back injury and a head injury which resulted in him losing his sight in 2011. Understandable despair and loss of confidence followed until Blind Veterans UK introduced him to JAWS, a software programme for the visually impaired, which has given him the confidence to take a computer course funded by "First Steps". Exams are due before Christmas 2015 but it was the support from Walking with the Wounded that gave him the confidence and determination to complete the course.
The other case study concerns Aidan who had served with the Household Cavalry for 6 years but struggled adapting to civilian life after leaving. He ended up sofa surfing before becoming homeless and living in a tent until he was introduced to Walking with the Wounded. Mental health issues are currently being addressed and have improved dramatically since he started the programme. Aidan has started engaging with others, making friends and building his ability to trust as he has grown with support. He has spent time working on fundraising and construction programmes with Walking with the Wounded and is fully engaged with his Home Straight employment mentor to determine his future career path.
Other successful graduates of the programme are electricians, plumbers, teachers, nurses, landscape gardeners, prosthetic specialists, equine therapists and specialist dog handlers and an artist.
A core element of the Walking with the Wounded programme is to access the most in accessible and to stop the "downward spiral" into which some fall. The ultimate aim is to enable veterans to gain employment and be financially independent.
"The primary benefit ....is that whether an individual is suffering with mental injury in Hampshire, homeless in Glasgow or is in police custody in Newcastle once they have been identified and are being supported they can feed into our re-training programme. Once their injuries and/or social challenges are overcome, we can take them through the next step into employment and long term security, alleviating illness, hardship, disability and/or poverty".
From Walking With the Wounded "First Steps" promotional literature.