A Royal Air Force veteran has spoken of his shock after hearing results of research that every day seven people are medically discharged from the armed forces.
Barrie Griffiths from Chorleywood served in the Royal Air Force for 34 years, rising to the rank of Group Captain.
In 2003, whilst carrying heavy gear on a loaded march, he suffered a spinal prolapse which compressed his spine. This triggered symptoms relating to spinal cord injuries and he lost all function from the waist down.
Although he was able to continue serving for another 12 years, these devastating injuries affected his mental health and he was medically discharged in 2015.
Barrie joined a rolling recovery programme at a recovery centre run by charity Help for Heroes, to use both sports and career recovery services, something he says helped him find opportunities that may not have been available to him otherwise.
He said: “When I heard the statistics that there are seven people medical discharged from the Armed Forces every single day, I was incredibly shocked because that means seven people could be struggling with the issues I struggled with.
“I know how hard that battle has been for me and to know there are seven people facing those same challenges every day highlights to me how big an issue support for wounded injured and sick Veterans in the future is going to be.”
With medical discharges increasing, reliance on support from military charities is increasing.
Barrie, who is now a Help for Heroes ambassador, said the charity can help with those struggling mentally as well as physically.
He said: “When I first went to a Help for Heroes recovery centre, I was at my lowest ebb. I’m forever grateful to the charity for allowing me to strip back the trappings and burdens of expectation and focus on me – that was when my recovery really began. Becoming an Ambassador is one of the things I’m most proud of. It’s opened doors and given me opportunities that wouldn’t have been available, it’s also allowed me to concentrate on my passion for issues affecting Servicemen and women.”
Help for Heroes is appealing for members of the public to help on Armed Forces Day.
Anyone who would like to donate can visit https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/give-support/armed-forces-day-2018/ or text ‘SHOW07 £5’ to 70070, to donate £5 to Help for Heroes, while anyone in need of support can visit www.helpforheroes.org.uk/get-support