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A life in the military was all Chris had ever wanted, and he served in the Army Air Corps as a class one qualified ground crewman, signaller and driver. Then, during military exercises, Chris’ dream was put in jeopardy when he badly damaged his legs. Despite rehabilitation, an untreated injury to his Achilles tendon continued to cause Chris problems. It led to his medical discharge, and for his world to come crashing down.

I felt unworthy of help, so it took a while to reach out. But thank goodness I did. Help for Heroes has been a constant in my life. They gave me the tools to kick start my career."

“The day I turned up for training I remember saying ‘this is where I belong.' The military drove me to achieve, and I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

“Then I badly damaged my feet and legs. After rehab, I returned to active duty. But very quickly I had trouble with my left knee and was sent for surgery.

“The operation made matters worse. What should have been a treatable problem turned into a lifetime of pain. And left me having to use a wheelchair.

“It all came to a head in May 1998. I was told ‘we can't fix your legs; they're not going to get any better. I was medically discharged.

“Being a soldier was my whole life. Suddenly it was gone as I was no longer of use. That was when I began to feel isolated.

Chris on his bike in the countryside
Chris now works in the mountain bike industry - Help for Heroes

“During training, it was drilled into you that being injured was a bad thing. That was back in the ‘90s, thankfully things are different now. But after having those words repeated, when it happened to me, it was hard to mentally cope.

“I remember watching the news coverage of Afghanistan and Iraq. It made me feel like a failure. I wasn't out there doing the job I’d signed up to do. It was incredibly difficult to deal with.

“People told me that I didn’t fit in or belong. So, I spent a lot of time alone. By Christmas 2014 I started to think about ending my life.

Then a colleague in my civilian job put me in touch with Help for Heroes. Scared I’d be turned away it took me a few months to reach out. But I did get in touch. Thank goodness I did. The Charity welcomed me with open arms and offered me support for life."

“I’ve always loved cycling. Help for Heroes used this passion to kick-start my career in the mountain bike industry. The Charity contributed towards funding for courses to help me become a mountain biking coach, tutor and mechanic.

“The Charity's Sports Recovery team have also helped me regain my confidence and self-belief. Without them, I’d never have competed in 2016. Both at the Invictus Games and representing the GB adaptive sports team at the World Championships in California. 

“When it comes to loneliness, I’m starting to make a few friends. But Christmas remains a difficult time. There have been years I haven't bothered putting decorations up.

 “But there was one-year Help for Heroes sent me a Christmas card. Little things like that make me smile. It’s a comfort to know someone gave their time and thought to send a card.

“To those veterans who still won't ask for support. I know I felt unworthy of help. Maybe you do too?  Think about those Christmas cards. They prove there are people out there who care.

“I really hope that you reach the point where you're ready to ask for help. You deserve support just as much as anyone else.”

We support members of the Armed Forces community with their physical and mental health and a range of welfare issues.

If you are in pain, feel anxious, stressed or lonely, have money trouble, need support with housing or applying for benefits, or just need a listening ear, we can help.

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