“Before Afghanistan, I remember dad would pick my sister and me up with each arm. We’ve got lots of photos of him holding us like that. But when he came back from that tour, he couldn’t do that anymore, and we used to go to hold his right hand, to find it wasn’t there."
Morgan was five years old when her father, Mark, was injured by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Afghanistan. Losing the use of his right arm, and left battling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Mark was medically discharged.
Desperately trying to regain control of his life, he worked long hours, spent his spare time in the gym and spiralled into a depression.
Now 16-years-old, Morgan reflects on her dad’s ongoing recovery.
“When I was little dad was away on tour a lot, so we had to quickly adapt from having a routine to suddenly not seeing him for months. He sent letters and we looked forward to video calls.
“I was only five when he had the accident, so I didn’t really understand what was happening. Before Afghanistan, I remember he’d pick my sister and me up with each arm. We’ve got lots of photos of him holding us like that. But when he came back from that tour, he couldn’t do that anymore, and we used to go to hold his right hand, to find it wasn’t there.
“After dad reached out to Help for Heroes, he started training in the gym at Catterick Recovery Centre, where he learnt how to adapt his workouts and met like-minded people who shared similar experiences to his.
“When he was training, my sister and I would spend time in the play area outside, then we’d go and eat with dad and the other veterans – which we loved. Eventually, one of dad’s Sports Development Coaches suggested he trained to be a Personal Trainer. Help for Heroes funded the course and now he runs his own successful PT business.
“Even now dad has bad days, and I can pick up on his moods. When that happens, I wait for him to chill out and help as much as possible. The support he’s had from the Charity really helps on those days – and he can always reach out for support from his Hidden Wounds counsellor if he needs to.
“We have a really good bond, and he knows I’m always here for him. There’s nothing we can’t chat about, and we support each other, which has really helped this past year. I’m doing my GCSEs and he’s helped me stay positive throughout all the uncertainty and been strong for me. He’s taught me that if I put in the hard work and believe in myself nothing can hold me back.
“It’s this mindset which helps dad with his ongoing recovery. Seeing him build a successful personal training business from the ground up, and take part in competitive sport is incredibly inspiring and I’m so proud.
“His injuries show what he’s been through and there’s nothing his mindset prevents him doing. To me, that’s what strength is - using mental strength to overcoming the obstacles in front of you, which is precisely what my dad has done.”
Find out more about Mark here.
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