“If I was to summarise gaming to me it would be it creates focus. It provides a place to share problems, to iron things out and create a distraction from the things that get me down, like pain or stress, worry and anxiety. It has a real positive effect on me, and has played a vital part in my recovery after each operation I’ve had.”
A few months ago Paul Colling told us how gaming had helped his recovery. Since then, Paul has reached out and connected with other wounded members of the Armed Forces, both veterans and serving, in a growing online gaming community. They 'meet' up regularly online to try out new games, hone their skills and chat - all within a safe space. Many of them have organised fundraising streams individually and as teams, to give back to the charity which has supported them. This weekend sees their biggest challenge to date as over 20 of them compete in a PES 2020 charity tournament.
Corporal Dave Hackett joined the Army in 2001 and deployed twice to Iraq as part of Operation Telic. In January 2019 he was medically downgraded due to lower leg injuries, and lives with severe PTSD as a result of his service.
A fellow member of Help for Heroes Fellowship introduced Dave to our gaming platform Hero Up, and since then, he's been able to game alongside other wounded service personnel and veterans and has finally been able to open up and talk to people about his issues.
He said: “I used to be really angry all the time. But a couple of weeks ago I was streaming and talking to a couple of guys about how gaming is helping my PTSD. My son Harrison who’s 8, was sat next to me. He said ‘you were always angry and shouting Dad, but now you hardly ever do that anymore'.”
Gaming has given Dave a new focus. Since finding other wounded soldiers to talk to while gaming, he feels much calmer, and more in control of his recovery journey.
“Help for Heroes is close to my heart being a serving soldier. By fundraising, I hope I can help spread the word it’s ok to not be ok and there is someone out there that will listen.”
Matt Neve, 35, is living with PTSD, the result of his role in Iraq which began in 2003. During lockdown he has benefited from the camaraderie of sharing his experiences with other veterans through the charity’s fellowship network and through online forums.
Matt became part of an online gaming community and says the contact he has with other veterans and gamers has reduced his social isolation and helped him face the daily challenges of his condition.
“Without Help for Heroes I wouldn’t be here,” he says, “The Hidden Wounds service is there to help veterans and their loved ones deal with the mental health battles we face because of our experiences and injuries. They’ve supported my family and I though some dark times, and I’d encourage everyone to support Help for Heroes so that other people can get that support when they need it too.”