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A 61-year-old Navy veteran, from Fareham, has hailed the support he’s received from the Charity, after he was injured while playing with his grandson in the local park.

Steve Rule, who spent 33 years in the Navy as a weapons engineer, left the service in 2013 and has been working in Civvy St since. But, 18 months ago, he fell and hit his neck on a tree root, which damaged his top two vertebrae and impacted on the spinal cord.

After two operations last year, he was told by medical professionals that everything was fine. He was still in constant pain but was told it would improve in time.

He explained: “Effectively, they discharged me with nothing – no physio, anything. I tried a couple of other charities but got nowhere, until my wife saw something on Facebook and contacted Help for Heroes.

“Within a week I was contacted by the Charity’s mental health, clinical and occupational therapy teams, and, thanks to their support, Salisbury Hospital then got in touch about doing rehab there. In the space of six weeks, I’d had more done than in the previous 18 months.”

In the space of six weeks, I’d had more done than in the previous 18 months ...

Steve Rule

Naval veteran

He added: “Help for Heroes has been an absolute godsend, for both my mental and physical health. It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind; a good whirlwind.

“It’s made a massive difference to me. My wife’s seen a change in me: more cheerful, more optimistic, and I’m able to do more stuff now. I now have a cross-trainer and a cycling machine in the house, as I’m able to use them – which I couldn’t before.

“Everything happened from the moment my wife contacted Help for Heroes. (Veterans clinical advisor) Julie Wadham got in touch with people for me and that set the ball rolling. Almost daily I was receiving phone calls from somebody at Help for Heroes saying can we help you. It’s been brilliant.”

Not only has the Charity’s support made a huge difference to Steve’s life but it’s also impacted positively on those around him. And his loved ones have decided they want to give something back – albeit if it means doing something they’ve never attempted before.

Steve smiled: “People have been so impressed that my father-in-law has now decided to leave some money in his will to the charity; my wife’s on about doing a 5k for the charity next year – and she’s never run before in her life; my son, who’s also ex-military, has said about joining her, and, with his upcoming retirement, he’s hoping to do some volunteering for Help for Heroes.”

Veterans in front of RM crest
Proud dad: Steve, right, on the day his son Ryan passed out with the Royal Marines - Contributed image

Julie Wadham, who has been with the Charity for two years, said: “Steve has been an absolute pleasure to support and the difference in him is remarkable. From carrying out my initial assessment we were able to identify his key goals.

“Having referred many veterans to Wessex Rehab at Salisbury Hospital before I knew they would be best placed to support him as they understand veterans and have some amazing facilities.

“I contacted his GP explaining my assessment and suggestion and they did the referral right away. Within two weeks he had his initial assessment there. I am so pleased everything has finally fallen into place for Steve and his family and that Help for Heroes was able to support him with that.

“The clinical team has developed its expertise in supporting veterans' complex health needs by utilising defined clinical pathways and collaborative working with trusted partners. We encourage anyone else feeling stuck to contact us to see if we can help them get the care and treatment they need.”