See the Difference / Stories / Gary Kirkpatrick

Gary Kirkpatrick

“I served in the Army for six years with the Royal Logistics Corps. In 2006 I was injured whilst training. It left me with a complex fracture of my left humerus, which needed vein and skin grafts and the insertion of a plate. I also suffered median nerve damage, leading to the loss of sensation in my left hand. I subsequently developed issues on my right arm, requiring three more operations and further medical help for the next 10 years.

“Following three years in military rehab, I was later diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) specifically linked to hospitals and vehicles.

“After being medically discharged from the Armed Forces I did my best to cope for the next four years. Unfortunately a series of events in quick succession including redundancy, two failed operations, the death of my father-in-law and losing a child during pregnancy were too much to bear.

“I had become stuck in a rut. My self-confidence and self-esteem had been worn away and this started to have an impact on my family. I was determined to limit the effects my problems had on them, but they have seen the pain my injuries and PTSD bring.

“Seeing I needed help, my wife signed me up to the Help for Heroes support network – the Band of Brothers. Getting to meet other wounded Armed Forces members past and present and seeing them coping left me inspired. I suddenly realised I wasn’t alone.

“Help for Heroes suggested I spend a week at one of their Recovery Centres and attend their Pathfinder Course, which helps to identify and develop a new career. Pathfinder challenged me to think about my attitude, how it affected my behaviour and how I needed to change or adapt.

“Being injured at 28 was a big shock and I found myself in a unique situation: young and retired. Pathfinder has helped me to define myself and that’s important when people ask, ‘what do you do?’ You need to be comfortable with the answer.

“Since getting support from Help for Heroes, I now run ‘Milestones Outdoor’ and have a vision to create a Centre of Excellence, employing Veterans to create outdoor spaces for activities like cycling.   I’ve also earned several qualifications, have two business mentors and am working on creating an exciting new business plan.

“Most importantly, the help I’ve got means I can focus on being a proud dad to my two daughters and not letting my injuries and PTSD stop me from living the best life I can.”