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Wednesday 03 June 2015

Bryn's Blog: the resilience of our Servicemen and women

Posted by: Help For Heroes | Categories: General

I’ve been hearing a great deal about ‘resilience’ recently. It can be defined as ‘the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity’ or ‘the ability to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness’.

Last week I met a military specialist who works with those who serve in our Armed Forces, and he knows a great deal about resilience and the ability to recover from difficulties. He described resilience as being like a stress ball, it scrunches up under pressure but, remove the pressure and given the right support, time and opportunity, it will spring back into shape.

He went on to talk about how we all carry baggage but, rather like a fast moving train, the baggage travels behind us. As long as we are careering forward, thinking about our next task, our baggage stays in the slipstream. If we come to a sudden stop or leave the rails, our baggage catches up with us. Then, at a time when we are least prepared, we have to cope; that needs resilience.

Imagine being a Serviceman or woman on operations. You’re under huge pressure, pumped up and at a heightened state of alertness. Sometimes elated, sometimes terrified, either way you feel intensely alive and fulfilled. Then, slam on the brakes, hitting the wall of injury and you suddenly have to accept that life will never be the same again. Coping with that will take resilience.

Anyone who undergoes an intense period of pressure will be squeezed like the stress ball but most, given time and some normality, will spring back. It’s harder for those who suffer due to service. They have to deal with changed lives, injuries, nightmares, and damaged relationships; they can become frustrated and angry. It is sometimes too much to deal with and life seems unbearable. They don’t feel elastic or tough. They do not feel resilient; they feel alone.

We all have times in our lives when things seem unbearable, when the train goes off the rails and our baggage catches up. That is normal, it is a perfectly natural reaction to stress and for those in difficult jobs, it is part of the deal. But, given the right help, things can improve.

At our H4H Recovery Centres we see this every day. We see people who have had a difficult time and need some help getting back on track. Some have physical injuries or illness, some have hidden wounds, all have to deal with ‘stuff’. We understand and we do our best to help with our trained and dedicated staff. We know it’s tough and it’s not easy. It takes time to bounce back, to get the baggage sorted out but life does get better, people do spring back.

We have seen this with people like Corbin, Lisa and Lee.

Corbin served alongside his brother Travis in Afghanistan. Tragically Travis was killed in action and Corbin struggled to come to terms with his loss. After leaving the army and being involved in a serious car crash Corbin was diagnosed with PTSD. Now Corbin is managing his psychological injury with physical activities, goals and focusing on positive memories of his brother. He recently took part in the ITV series Ninja Warrior UK (reaching the final!) in order to raise awareness for H4H and honour Travis’ memory.

Lisa’s husband suffered a severe accident in training, severing an artery and nearly losing his arm. The physical and psychological effect of this has had a huge impact on their family. But visits to the H4H Recovery Centre at Tedworth House have brought them closer together and this year Lisa is taking part in the H4H Trek through South Africa.

After an operation on his kidney, Lee was left with agonising pain and muscle spasms and was diagnosed as having a rare, painful and debilitating syndrome. For a while the pain seemed to control his life – he couldn’t work and he suffered severely with depression and anxiety. However, in October 2014 Lee won Gold at the Invictus Games and this year he is riding from Wiltshire to Windsor as part of Hero Ride 2015.

At H4H we measure success not by profit margins or the number of products sold but by lives rebuilt. Our success is measured by seeing ‘our blokes’ our men and women of the Armed Forces, get back on track and getting on with their new lives.

This wouldn’t be possible without your support. Thank you.

Onwards and Upwards