Veteran Mark Taylor, from London, saw tours of Kosovo, Northern Ireland and Iraq. In 2005, after a decade of active duty which culminated in a tour of Iraq that saw two men in his Battalion die, Mark attempted to commit suicide.
Mark says, “For me, the straw that broke the camel’s back was my final tour in Iraq in 2004. We were the most attacked company of the British Army since the Korean War in 1950. During a single tour, our base experienced 595 mortars, 27 rocket propelled grenades, 17 Chinese rockets and over 2000 individual small arms contacts. Our company lost two men.”
Mark believes he came back from Iraq a completely different person to the one that went out there. He felt he couldn’t be the solider, father, son and husband he needed to be which led him to attempt suicide in 2005. It was following that attempt that he was first diagnosed with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Despite this he remained in the army for the next nine years, bottling up his feelings and not seeking help for his PTSD. Eventually his wife could no longer cope and filed for divorce. It was at this time that a concerned friend took him to the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre, Tedworth House in Wiltshire.
Mark says; “I knew about Help for Heroes before but I didn’t know quite how fantastic their Recovery Centres were. Since then I have spent a lot of time living between Tedworth House and the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Colchester. PTSD affects the whole family, and my time spent at the Recovery Centres has enabled me to forge the closest relationship I’ve ever had with my two girls, who are 12 and 14, my partner, Yvonne and my family.”
Mark believes that Help for Heroes also helped him to gain a new appreciation for the part that sport can play in psychological welfare. “Before I got involved with Help for Heroes I had no desire to meet anyone new and my previously competitive nature had completely gone. But through the Sports Recovery programme the Charity encouraged me to get involved in sports again and I even became a golf champion! It’s been a great form of therapy as it gives me time to escape my past experiences and helps me to be social again.”
Mark was discharged from the army in 2013 and is now working towards a new career path with the support of Help for Heroes Career Recovery. He recently started his own business, ‘Hero Handyman’, offering DIY services to those who need them.
“For the first time in ten years, Help for Heroes helped me hold my hand up and say ‘I need help’. I’ve the closest relationship with my family that I’ve ever had because the Charity has helped me deal with my PTSD and become a better person from it. That is what drives me to raise awareness and give something back to a fantastic Charity that I believe saved my life.”