“I was 18 when I went to Afghanistan. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. I didn’t want to tell my superiors how I felt as I was worried they’d discharge me. My peers seemed to be doing ok and we just weren’t geared up for sharing our emotions the way they are these days.”
Back to civie life
“When I left the army, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I missed the camaraderie, the brotherhood. I just didn’t fit in to civie life. That’s when my drinking seemed to get the better of me. I had a lovely girlfriend and a young son, but I couldn’t seem to get my head together.
“Eventually, my girlfriend kicked me out of the home. I was angry at the time, but looking back I don’t blame her. I wasn’t working and became a liability. She would beg me to get some help for my mental health, but I was too proud.”
“Being homeless isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever been through. I managed quite well on the streets for a few weeks but then someone mentioned CENS to me and I thought that for my son’s sake, I should at least try to help myself.
“Arriving here was fine. Staff were friendly and the rooms are more than adequate. I thrive on structure so sticking to the no drinking/opening times was not a problem for me.”
“The staff put me in touch with a SSAFA, a charity that helps ex-army service men. I knew there was help out there, but it wasn’t until I was at CENS that I took the help on offer. SSAFA were amazing. I was allocated some mental health support and they even paid for my deposit and first month’s rent on a lovely flat. I only stayed at CENS for a few weeks as SSAFA really went above and beyond to help me.
“If it wasn’t for CENS, I wouldn’t have reached out and got the help I am eligible for. I’ve now got a nice little place near Abbeyfields. My drinking isn’t an issue and I have regular contact with my son. I’m still having therapy now and there’s no shame in that.”