Former Lance Corporal Martin Tye served with The Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment and served tours in Northern Ireland, Iraq, the Falklands, Cyprus and Afghanistan.
Martin joined the military because he liked the idea of travelling, visiting different countries and cultures – and in his own words “to do something with my life, and to grow up”.
It was while driving in Afghanistan that a suicide bomber drove in to his vehicle. Martin woke up from a coma in Selly Oak hospital; dazed, very confused and having suffered life-changing injuries.
He spent a long time in hospital, his voice box shut down and he was unable to eat or drink without drowning his lungs. Despite extensive rehabilitation, Martin is still unable to walk without severe and debilitating pain. This has meant he is now a wheelchair user. He also suffers severe PTSD and experiencing guilt about the way in which this affects his day-to-day life.
It has been through Help for Heroes Sports Recovery that Martin has found some relief from his physical and psychological challenges. Martin says;
“Sport helps me interact with other people, I feel a lot more confident. When I was first injured I pushed a lot of my colleagues, friends and family away, and now I feel like I’m coming out the other side.”
He also feels that although his physical injuries were addressed immediately, it took him years to come to terms with the psychological effects of what had happened to him. Sport is the vehicle for Martin to focus on what he wants to achieve in the future.
Martin has been rowing with Guildford Rowing Club for two years now. He says it acts as a positive outlet for aggression, as well as being a good way of socialising.
“When I get on the water my pain is eased, my worries move away and I’m focussed on what I’m doing, and it’s like meditation.”
Help for Heroes have supported Martin in other areas too. Working in partnership with Haig Housing, the charity have been able to help him with an assisted house purchase, which he says has been the single most important thing for him and his family.
This Christmas Martin’s partner will be away serving in Kabul. He plans to channel his positive energy and continue to focus on training: “Sport is better than any drug, even on my worst day when I’m rowing I mellow out, worry less and I’m calmer and feel more able to deal with life.”
Martin is looking forward to training for the Invictus Games next year, in the hope of competing in rowing, wheelchair rugby, powerlifting and field events.
To anyone that is sat at home wondering how to move forward this Christmas, Martin says: “I understand how hard it is to walk through the doors for the first time, but once you’ve passed that the comradery comes back – just go for it.”