James Tattingham served in the Parachute Regiment and toured Afghanistan in 2008. There he often faced up to six hours of firefights each day and the horrors he saw left a lasting mark. Returning home after seven months, he had no idea he would bring the war back with him.
One particular event he witnessed, on 22 July 2008, is what James pinpoints as the cause of his PTSD. Corporal Jason Barnes had gone to the aid of an injured comrade, Tom Neathway who had lost three limbs in a mine explosion, when his vehicle struck an IED killing him instantly.
“It’s the feeling of guilt an event like that leaves you with,” he said. “I couldn’t do anything about it.”
When he returned home, James began to notice changes in his behaviour.
“I would lash out and snap at the slightest little thing. My wife, Lucy, said I was like a loose hand grenade. She didn’t know when I was going to go off.”
James even kept a combat knife in his wardrobe to help him feel protected in his own home. Unsuccessful sessions with a psychiatrist led to Lucy phoning Help for Heroes.
James, along with Lucy and their two children, were invited to stay at Help for Heroes Recovery Centre Tedworth House. There they took part in activities together and James was able to talk openly with the Psychological Wellbeing team, who referred him to Combat Stress.
“It felt like I was able to relax and de-stress at Tedworth,” added James.
“Help for Heroes got me involved in sporting activities like Hero Ride and Ironman. I’ve calmed down a lot and I’m not angry anymore.
“If it wasn’t for Help for Heroes and my wife I probably wouldn’t be here today.”