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By Walking With The Wounded on

Initially referred for a mental health assessment, Matt was diagnosed with PTSD and received therapy. His job was identified as part of the problem and he was advised to start a new career. Dan worked to restore Matt’s confidence and helped guide him through the job market. Matt will start a new role shortly and is feeling positive about the future.

‘The support and advice that WWTW provided, turned my life around. I still have my down days and I feel challenged every so often, but these are becoming fewer. I am a better person to be with and I feel my family love me more than ever and in turn I feel I have the right to love them back. I feel I am the father I want to be to my young children. I am so grateful. Thank you.’

Matt was 17 when he joined the Royal Engineers (RE). A group of soldiers from the RE had come to his school when he was young, and they had made a lasting impression on him - he knew that he wanted to be in their regiment. At first, Matt was unsure if he wanted to stay in the Army as he felt isolated from his family. However, he reconsidered his position as he had done well, and his career had advanced. He was steadily promoted through the ranks until he achieved Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1), Regimental Sergeant Major.

With each promotion came added responsibility. Matt was deployed with his regiment on several tours in Northern Ireland and Iraq as well as short tours to Kosovo and Bosnia. He developed strong protective feelings for the many young soldiers in his charge and felt responsible for their wellbeing. On his second tour of Iraq, Matt was put in charge of TRiM, (Trauma Risk Management) assessments for his regiment. He listened to the experiences of those returning from the field and evaluated their exposure to trauma. For a while, the casualties were high - soldiers were lost every day and the flag flew at half-mast above the camp.

‘My second tour in Iraq was particularly tough. We were bombed and shot at every day for months. It seemed there was not one day when the Battlegroup did not suffer fatalities. I was the Unit’s TRiM Practitioner, and I assessed the level of trauma that many of the soldiers had been exposed to during the tour. I found these ‘interviews’ very challenging and every time I was left shaken and emotionally drained. I began to dread hearing their stories as there seemed to be nothing I could do to help.’

After 25-years in the Army, Matt came to the end of his military career. He admits that by then he was no longer motivated and that it was time to move on. As a civilian, Matt was initially employed as a Counter IED consultant and deployed to Afghanistan. He was then recruited into the oil industry where he worked until he was made redundant during the COVID-19 lockdown. 3-4 years after he had left the Army, Matt began to experience the symptoms of trauma. He became emotional and anxious, and he was easily upset. He did not realise that he had a problem - it was his wife who encouraged him to seek help. He turned to WWTW.

‘My deployments had a more profound effect on me than I realised and after 8 years as a civilian, I needed the services of WWTW. My wife encouraged me to get help as my mental health was having a negative impact on me and my family and friends. For reasons unknown to me now, I had always thought I was okay.’

Initially, WWTW referred Matt for a mental health assessment, and he was diagnosed with PTSD and vicarious guilt (feelings of guilt based on the wrong doings of others). He received one-to-one counselling and learnt strategies to help him cope. Matt then met his Employment Advisor, Dan. Dan identified that Matt’s current job was causing him excessive stress and suggested that he looked for a new career. He then helped Matt to develop his CV and mentored him through the job application process. He worked to rebuild Matt’s confidence until he was ready to start to look for work and attend interviews.

By a quirk of fate, Matt was made redundant from his position in the oil company. Dan pushed ahead and identified jobs that matched Matt’s skills and aspirations. After a few weeks he was offered employment with a high-profile firm in London and his confidence soared. He decided to turn down the offer and held out for the job that he really wanted…

‘‘I owe Dan a living – he was brilliant. He always had time to listen to me and was so much more than just a careers advisor. He restored my faith in myself and built me up until I was confident to apply for jobs and go for interviews. It was six months into the COVID situation and there was not much work around. He knew how tough it was to get knock-backs from interviews, but he reminded me that ‘job hunting was a game of resilience, and not personal’. I received several offers of work, but I held out for the role that I really wanted - it’s a fantastic job working as a Cadet Force Trainer in a senior school.’

Matt is looking forward to starting his new role at the school shortly. As he will be working part-time, he will now be able to have more ‘Dad’ time for his children and his wife will be able to pursue her professional career and her role as an Intelligence Corp Major in the Reserves. Matt is happy and relaxed, and excited about the future.

‘I intend to have a proper family Christmas this year - the first in years that hasn’t been interrupted by the stress of work commitments. By then, I will have settled into my new role training cadets and will be at home with my children for the whole of the school holidays. I want to focus on my family, to live out life, and to enjoy it. I thank WWTW for this new lease of life.’