Last Christmas was a very different affair for David Teague. Struggling to cope with crippling anxiety, he would barely leave his home. Less than 12 months later, and thanks to the Help for Heroes Career Recovery programme, he will be spending this Christmas in full-time employment and with a new-born son.
David, who grew up in Nantyglo, Gwent, and now lives in Tidworth, Wiltshire, was only 16 when he joined the Royal Engineers in 2005. Hoping to see the world and learn a trade, he spent five years abroad in Germany, did two tours of Afghanistan and was also deployed to Jordan and Austria.
His life was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). From being active and outgoing, he found himself feeling constantly on edge and anxious: “I lost confidence and couldn’t make decisions for myself. I had massive social anxiety being around people.”
In need of support, David spent time at Tedworth House Recovery Centre, and joined the Band of Brothers. But it was earlier this year, when he spent time on Heritage Heroes, a partnership between Canal & River Trust and Help for Heroes, that things really started to change. The project aims to train wounded, injured and sick service personnel, veterans and their families for an accredited qualification as they restore forgotten canals across the country.
Being part of the project was a huge benefit to David’s ongoing recovery and, just one month after it finished, he landed a job as a delivery driver with Ocado: “Heritage Heroes was the best thing I ever did because it got me out of the house and back into a routine. It gave me something to aim for and brought me back to the real world.
“If it wasn’t for H4H support and the confidence they gave me, I never would have secured a job I love.”
David is now looking forward to Christmas with his wife, daughter Claire-Florence and their newborn son Ben-William.
“If you’d have told me 12 months ago I’d be this happy, I’d have said there was no chance. I was in such a bad state. I’m nowhere near the person I used to be and I have a sense of purpose. All I wanted to do was get to a stage where I can support my family again. I’ve reached that and more, all thanks to Help for Heroes.”