A former Lancashire infantry soldier who was injured in an explosion in Northern Ireland, has to walk 1000 km for Help for Heroes.
John Newcombe, 58, developed multiple sclerosis after his injury in Ireland in the 1980s, but the veteran, who once ran from Bosnia to Britain to raise money for children in need, is determined to complete the 1,000 kilometer journey along the Lancashire coast.
Mr. Newcombe, who lives near Chorley, was a soldier for 34 years, but now uses a wheelchair and loses the use of his hands.
His partner Claire Corner, who will end the trip with him and who suffers from lupus, an autoimmune disease, said he would use wheelchairs from Help for Heroes and an adapted static bike and hand bike donated by a friend. of the Army. .
Mr Newcombe said: “People take the simpler things for granted, being able to stand up, talk to people face to face, a good hug.
“Help for Heroes has arrived and I can do all of these things again. ”
Mr Newcombe is one of many veterans who shared personal stories of how seeking help transformed their lives after an investigation uncovered the extent of the soldiers’ mental health crisis.
A Help for Heroes poll showed that 73% of veterans with lifelong health issues struggle with their mental well-being on a daily basis, and the same number reported frequent long-term pain.
Meanwhile, 82% have trouble sleeping every night, according to the charity’s survey of 2,201 veterans and serving staff in June 2021.
Some 60% of people living with a long-term health problem also said they thought their physical condition had worsened during the pandemic, and 56% said their mental health had deteriorated.
Former Infantry Soldier Ben Bainbridge, who suffered a life-changing injury in Afghanistan, is eager to walk down the aisle to marry his fiancee, Steph Dunn, after receiving a new leg brace from the Charity association.
Mr Bainbridge, 30, of Beverley in the East Riding of Yorkshire, was in a coma when his leg was shattered in an explosion 12 years ago, but has since been able to walk again and has two daughters, Ellie, 11 years old, and Ariel, Sept.
He said: “It has been difficult, there are a lot of things that I struggle to do, like being able to take our dog for a long walk.
“I’m not ashamed of my foot, but I can’t wait to walk up the aisle and be watched by people for the right reasons.”
Miss Dunn, 31, added: “When he got up and walked for the first time with the new leg brace I cried, it was so amazing.
“It was overwhelming because just being able to walk has been a daily struggle for him for 11 years.”
Royal Navy veteran David Street, 42, said he still had nightmares about his service in Afghanistan as a gunner, where he was deployed the day after 9/11.
Mr Street, of Plymouth, sustained injuries to his left knee and lower back, leaving him with permanent, cane-dependent pain and PTSD.
He said: “The mental side is tough. Every detonation can trigger something. I am constantly on edge, I don’t want to sleep. I can’t rest.
Regarding recent developments in Afghanistan, he said: “Many of us ex-combatants feel worthless, and what good was 20 years of conflict in this country? To see him now is awful.
But Mr Street said Help for Heroes had helped him overcome his mental health issues and feel connected to a “family of veterans.”
Former Royal Signals communications operator Rob Jennings suffers from sleep deprivation as well as PTSD, panic attacks and health and social anxiety after being deployed to Bosnia, where he was on call from 1 hour to 3 a.m. every evening.
The 50-year-old veteran from Leeds, West Yorkshire said: ‘At the age of 24 I had three military medals and felt valued for my service, but after mental health issues and after been demobilized for medical reasons, I felt worthless.
“However, by interacting with support services, I created a full-time job that is just about taking care of myself and making sure that I spend each day constructively, one day at a time.”
Veterans can access the association’s support by calling the helpline on 0300 303 9888.
Mr. Newcombe’s fundraising page for his 1,000 km challenge can be found here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/claire-corner4