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As a Commando, Martin lived by the motto you ‘adapt and overcome’.   

He fought in the First Gulf War. Carried out dozens of daring parachute jumps. Was trained in jungle warfare and learned how to survive in Arctic conditions. 

But nothing could have prepared him for the horrors of living with multiple sclerosis (MS). 

Even before he was diagnosed with MS, life was tough. Martin had been medically discharged from the Army because of severe damage to his back.  

After 10 years as an elite soldier, adjusting to civilian and family life was overwhelming. His mental health was in a bad way.  

Thanks to support from Help for Heroes, Martin now exercises regularly. He’s built bridges in his local community. And he regularly meets up with other veterans.  

He has a new-found happiness. 

Martin in uniform with his special forces unit
Martin during his days as a Commando - Help for Heroes

“MS is awful. It stops my arms, hands, legs and brain working properly. Some mornings I can’t put toothpaste on my toothbrush. That's when I know it’s going to be a tough day. 

“With MS, I need to exercise every day. I'd been struggling to find the motivation. Many days I didn’t leave the house, some days I didn’t leave my bed. As a Commando, I was trained for virtually anything. But MS was destroying me mentally.  

“Going on a Help for Heroes sporting weekend changed my life.”  

Martin walks outside with Hannah from H4H as they smile and chat
Martin with Hannah, one of our team who helps veterans get back into sport - Help for Heroes

Back in the fold 

“Leaving the Army hurt me physically and mentally. I couldn’t survive, I was in my own little bubble for years. 

“I’d been referred to these veterans’ breakfast clubs through the NHS. They were great, but they were for two hours and when I got home, I was isolated again. I needed more. 

“At one of the breakfast clubs there was a guy from Help for Heroes called Minnie. He told me about things the Charity could help me with, and activities I could get involved in. 

“He told me about a sporting weekend that was happening. I was scared, but thought I’d give it a go. 

“Hannah, who is from the Charity, picked me and some other veterans up in a mini-bus and took us to the hotel. I had a disabled room that suited me perfectly. Then we had a weekend of activities.  

“I took part in lots of sports. Rowing, wheelchair basketball, swimming. 

“I use sticks to get around. But I fall over regularly. My occupational therapist said I should think about using a wheelchair. Fear and embarrassment have been stopping me. Playing wheelchair basketball with the other veterans was so much fun and made me realise I’ve nothing to be fearful or embarrassed of.” 

Martin plays wheelchair basketball at a Help for Heroes event
Martin playing wheelchair basketball at our sporting weekend - Help for Heroes


“Going away with the Charity for that weekend took me out my comfort zone. It helped me accept being disabled. I took part in activities that I hadn't realised I was capable of.

“Being around other veterans was amazing. We all had disabilities, but we forgot about them. It was just about getting in a group and working together. It was like we were all the same. That gave me lots of positivity.

“I made so many friends and we keep in touch by social media, encouraging and supporting each other.”

Martin stands with a group of veterans looking happy
Martin has become friends with veterans he met at the activity weekend - Help for Heroes

Taking the plunge  

“Swimming is so good for you if you have MS. It allows you to exercise your whole body. 

“We swam at the weekend with the support of the team. I felt safe because I trusted them.  

“One of the veterans I met, called Taff, challenged me to go swimming when I got home. 

“There’s a leisure centre down the road from me. I’ve wanted to go there for a while, but have been scared to. I wasn’t sure if they’d accept disabled people. The weekend away taught me to ask for help.  

“I went to the swimming pool and said, ‘I’ve got MS, I can slip and fall, can I take my walker to the poolside?’ The lady was brilliant. She showed me around and talked me through what to do. Then I went for a swim. 

"I now go swimming there every Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I've met some other people there who swim who are friendly and encouraging."

The chance to do something inspiring 

“I’m happy and I’m smiling again, and that’s because of that one weekend and the lasting impact it had. 

“I now take part in other activities with the Charity. They arrange so many things. For example, gardening and horticulture. It’s a chance to do something new, something inspiring.  

“They take away the fears and the negativity of not getting on with life. They've made it possible, even with my MS and bad back, to do all these activities and be supported. 

“With my disability, it can feel like I’m stuck in a world of my own. But Help for Heroes lets me break free. I’m not alone now. I've got all these new friends.” 

Inspired or moved by Martin's story? 

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