In mid-June my father and I are embarking on a week-long, 350-mile bike ride across Northern France to raise money for Help For Heroes. This is an amazing cause, with the money going to support wounded and injured service personnel, veterans and their families.
Help for Heroes has launched a major long-term programme, Hidden Wounds, with Exeter University to help those who served to recover their mental well being as well as continuing to support established military charities who deal with the more complex problem of PTSD.
There is a family connection to the mental issues suffered by many service personnel. My Great, Great Uncle joined up in 1911 and served throughout WWI. In 1921 he came home from his barracks in Gosport to his parents' home in Hampshire where his father was the village shoe smith and churchwarden. He spent the afternoon of the 13th with a group of friends. He walked home across the meadows and on the outskirts of the town he filled his pockets with stones, tied lumps of chalk around his waist and drowned himself in the River Avon. His brother described him as someone who "died from the war, not in the war". He was 27.
Mental disturbance as a result of war is too well documented to be the subject of conjecture. Such disturbance infrequently leads to suicide but it often leads to a lowered quality of life. There are many who have served recently who would benefit from advice, assistance and support to recover their mental wellbeing. To quote one young officer: "I don't know about post-traumatic stress disorder. But I do know about nightmares. I do know about gory images flicking before my eyes. About violent fantasies. About burning rage."
Any donations made will go to a fantastic cause and help those who are in real need - you can see just how much it helps at www.helpforheroes.org.uk.
Thank you all very much in advance!