Victoria Mead’s husband, James, has served in the Army for 11 years. Always striving to give his very best, he also competed in his regiment’s swimming and shooting teams. As enjoyable and rewarding as he found his years of service, a string of injuries led to severe back problems.
As a result, Victoria and James’ day-to-day lives have been drastically altered. James suffers extreme levels of pain, making him often unable to do even the simplest tasks. Walking any distance is only possible with the use of mobility aids and frequent rest.
It meant that Victoria had to adapt and learn to look after James, along with their two young children. Watching him in agony after being used to seeing him as a fit and activesoldier was difficult to accept: “The glass was always half full for James. Since his injury, he has lost his spark and feels worthless. He believes people see his injury and not him as a person.”
Victoria has seen James lose his purpose and self-worth as he faces being medically discharged from the Armed Forces. However, she’s been determined not to be overwhelmed: “James’ pain means his moods jump from one extreme to another, but I don’t want him to give up or for this to affect our children. I’ve become a full-time motivator.”
As committed as she was to taking care of James, Victoria didn’t know if she would be able to cope without the help she needed herself: “Times can be really tough and I often feel upset and swamped by everything.”
She was aware of Help for Heroes, which had been supporting James, and their fellowship group the Band of Sisters – for loved ones of wounded Service Personnel – but felt reluctant about getting in touch: “I really didn’t feel like I deserved to be a part of it, but I knew I needed to speak to somebody.
“A few weeks later a bag turned up at the house from the Band of Sisters. Inside was a small memory stick. I plugged it in and started to watch the video it contained. Before I knew it my eyes were streaming – the women in it were like me. They felt how I felt and they saw what I saw. That moment was a huge turning point in my own recovery.
“The biggest advantage I have received from the Charity and Band of Sisters is the support network around me. The people there are worth their weight in gold!”
Now she is getting the support she needs, Victoria hopes to focus back on the most important thing in her life – her family. For other loved ones caring for wounded, injured and sick Service Personnel, she urges them to get in touch with Help for Heroes: “You don’t have to go through this pain on your own. Whether you feel like you need a big help or a little shoulder to cry on, Help for Heroes can offer both of these. There is so much more to the Charity than what you may have heard. Give it a go, you never know where you may end up. It’s a pillar of strength for James and me.”