The ADVANCE Study, funded by Help for Heroes and the Ministry of Defence, researches the long-term health and welfare of those wounded on the battlefield. Expert clinicians compare everything from bone density to cholesterol levels and lung capacity, to work out what wider impact being wounded might have on a veteran’s overall health.
Battlefield wounds sustained in a split-second can take years to heal. Many of the veterans we support would never have survived their injuries before, and little is known about the long-term impact of these wounds.
Often, they are in pain and struggle with the relentless daily battle of adapting to life with their injuries. Some are dealing with injuries so severe, they previously would have been fatal. Many will suffer with the consequences of these injures for life – even if the full impact is hidden or only understood many years after service.
Eleven years after Lance Corporal John Herbert was involved in an IED explosion in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, he still finds splinters of glass, plastic and metal emerging from under his skin. Some of them he is able to prise out, others cause him to cut himself when he shaves. Almost daily, he is reminded of the damage the blast did and he is worried about the long-term effect on his body. Will the shrapnel under his skin poison his blood or tissue, and how will his brain injury affect him in years to come?
John is not the only one. During the conflict in Afghanistan alone, 2,188 military personnel were admitted to field hospitals - many with life-changing injuries.
A King’s College London study revealed that between 2003 and 2014, 265 operationally injured veterans underwent 416 amputations. Collectively, they’ll require approximately £288 million of medical support for trauma care, rehabilitation and prosthetics over an average remaining lifetime of 40 years.
John is one of over 1,000 taking part in the ADVANCE Study. He believes that doing so will address some of the uncertainty he and his family face in the years ahead.
He said: “Taking part in ADVANCE means a lot to me, it feels like people actually care. I think people do understand (some of the needs of injured veterans) but that there’s a lot still to learn.”
Staff Sergeant Craig Davis is also taking part, as part of the control group. Keen to do something to help those less fortunate than him, Craig gave up some of his leave to fly over from Germany for the study. As part of the control group, Craig’s participation allows the research teams to identify what hidden, long-term damage the wounded body might have sustained.
Craig said: “I’m taking part not only to understand what my own body has been through during 17 years of army service, but also to help the team gather knowledge that will hopefully improve (the lives of those injured). I feel privileged to be taking part.”
When our heroes join the Armed Forces, they make a promise to protect our country. In return we make a commitment to support the wounded and their families, whenever they need us. With your support, together, we can give them one less battle to fight.
Taking part in the ADVANCE Study
ADVANCE is studying a group of combat casualties and combat veterans selected by Defence Statistics as fitting the following essential criteria:
- UK Armed Forces personnel
- Aged under 50 when deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan
- Aero medically evacuated from theatre directly to a UK hospital OR matched for age, rank and role in theatre with somebody who was aero medically evacuated.
The ADVANCE Study is still seeking participants. If you’re interested and want to find out if you are eligible, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01509 251500, ext 3408.