From a young age, Paul dreamt of following in his brother’s footsteps and joining the Army. His dream became reality, and he served as physical trainer in the Royal Signals. But 16 years into his service, an injury from earlier in his career proved to have enduring consequences.
“I injured my ankle during a training exercise in 2003. Damage to the ligaments, tendons and cartilage caused me frequent pain, but I worked through it.
“I continued to train new recruits and regularly took part in endurance marches and fitness training. I was also deployed to Iraq and did a tour of Afghanistan - there are parts of Afghanistan that stick with me still.
“Then in 2017 another training exercise caused more damage. They scanned my leg, and I was told I had to leave. It felt like my world had ended.
“Who I was, everything I’d worked for, everything I wanted to achieve, gone in an instant. It was the first time I’ve ever been mentally broken."
“Every soldier is taught to crack on, so I didn’t really acknowledge my declining mental state.
“I found a new job, and my employers were understanding when I needed any operations for my injury.
“But inside I was struggling with the sudden loss of my military identity. I felt lost, confused and alone.
“It got so bad that I considered ending my life. That's when I reached out to Help for Heroes.
“The Charity’s Recovery College helped me confront my mental health and move forward with my life. Their Fellowship meetings introduced me to others who had a shared experience, which helped to tackle my isolation.
“Without their support, I’m not sure I’d still be here. I wanted to give something back, which is why I choose to volunteer."
“I find it so inspiring to see people give their time and effort, to raise money for others. It’s incredible.
“However many hours you can spare, every minute of your time helps make a difference. And it feels good knowing that you’re helping veterans and their families.
“By volunteering, you have the power to change the lives of veterans in your community."