Thank you for reading the lads stories but please remember there are 000’s of ex-service personnel still out there living on the streets of Britain that need help, we can do our best but we cannot help them all.
We keep hearing the government talking about the Covenant but with all the redundancies coming up the time for talking is over and if nothing is put in place now the plight of the homeless ex forces will only get worse!
David Ex Reme!
Joining the Army back in the 80's started off as one of the best periods in my life and for a number of years that was the case. Intense Military training turns you into a Soldier followed by the specialist training I had to undertake in the field of expertise I had chosen to follow. But what soon became apparent was the changes it made to life and myself as a person. It takes someone special to be able to cope with the pressures, and have built into you the switch that you can just turn on to block out normal civilian life and go into military mode to do what the Army is all about.
To a certain extent it’s a bit like brainwashing, where everything you have been taught is put into action at times of troubles on active service roles.
There is a big difference from being on the ranges shooting at a cardboard figure to actually being in the situation where it is people not a target that you have in your sights and a bit scary that the split second judgements can mean the difference between life and death.
Psychologically it is very difficult to cope after losing a friend and comrade but again the emotions and feelings are blocked out by the magic switch that allows you to function as a soldier. It’s only afterwards when things calm down and back at your home base that realisations start to hit you.
I left the Army in September 1987 and took up a role within MOD doing the same type of work. I suppose this was my way of trying to integrate back into civilian life. Resettlement back then was a month training course to get a course or a trade but it did not provide the transition back into civilian life. No psychological debriefs or training to be a normal person and a civilian.
After serving in the military it is a bit of a culture shock returning to civilian life for a number of reasons. The close bond you gain in the military does not exist in normal life and the ways to cope with matters are completely different. Being able to hold down a steady job is like a boring lifestyle so I tended to move from job to job trying to better myself.
Then along came the start of the recession and life took the biggest turn. Having a good job with a huge multinational company as a Project Engineer came to an end with redundancy as the plant was relocated to Turkey and China. Then came the strains on marriage resulting in the break up and subsequent divorce. Then the final nail in the coffin having the family home repossessed and becoming homeless.
Pride plays a big part for ex-military personnel and the thought of having to plead poverty and ask for help was not an option and being a then single guy no priority with local councils to gain a home. I will never forget the words that started to change that “It makes me proud to have served Queen and Country and now I'm on the scrap heap" The council then pointed me in the direction of a Project that was supposed to provide accommodation and support for homeless ex-military.
It seemed like my salvation at the time but again how wrong was I to assume that. £231.50 per week for a roof over my head with no support as had been stated and not just for me but for 16 of us that were in the place. It was just money making machine on the back of us homeless ex-military guys. After a few months and suffering depression which was dragging me down I found that military switch again to be able to cope with things and soon found a one bedroomed apartment and moved on.
Then what came as a big surprise was the help I got from Soldiers off the Street. Words and praise are not enough to thank SOTS for what they do for our forgotten veterans. When no one else was there these guys react and do what they say they will do. Helping re home guys like myself and offering lots of support and assistance. The sad part is it takes a charity to do what the country should be doing not just for me as ex-military but for the amount of homeless ex-military that are out on the streets in this country.