For reservist Christopher the support available from Combat Stress has been vital to him.
“I’ve always wanted to be part of the Armed Forces. I did six years as a cadet and then transferred straight across into the Reserves when I turned 18 in 2005. I had the opportunity to be part of a crew, undertaking reconnaissance in a tank and this really appealed to me.
“My first operational tour was in 2008 to Afghanistan and it cemented the job for me. I’d signed up to deploy at some point and this was my chance to do just that. After a successful tour, I returned home and got back to normal life.
“I was then called up again in 2011 to go back to Afghanistan – I’d always wanted to do another tour so I jumped at the chance. This time around though, things were very different. My armoured vehicle was blown up by an explosive. I survived but two of my fellow soldiers were killed outright.
“When I returned home, I found it hard to cope with the memories. I struggled at work, lost my job and was at a very low ebb. I’m generally quite a placid person but I became very argumentative and violent.
“I realised I needed help and remembered that a few years ago I had attended a presentation at my Army Reserve Unit from Combat Stress. I’d kept their Helpline card that had been handed out behind my ID card and suddenly I knew why. It was really daunting to make that first call but as soon as I had made contact, the Combat Stress team put things in place to provide the help I needed.
“I met with Glen MacDonald, one of the Reserve Forces Liaison Officers, and everything went from there. Straight away I knew I was going to be looked after well.
“I’ve already undertaken a one week residential treatment programme at Hollybush House – this was really beneficial to me and definitely helped me turn a corner. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD and plan to undertake the Combat Stress PTSD Intensive Treatment Programme to further my recovery.
“I’ve also got a new job as a truck driver and recently got married so things couldn’t be better. I’m still an active member of the Army Reserve. Phoning Combat Stress was the best thing I ever did - it changed my life around.”
If you serve, or have served your country as a reservist, our 24-hour Helpline (0800 138 1619) can provide confidential advice on your mental health issues and how to get help.