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James Nugent, a soldier, and his wife Natasha have two little girls, Evie-Rose and Elsie-Rose…

WE have been living in a quarter for just over a year and I married Natasha in 2014. I have been in the Army since 2007 and I have had mostly good experiences. Our youngest girl, Elsie, was diagnosed with a terminal genetic condition, Spinal Muscular Atrophy type one, in September 2014. The Army has been very supportive by letting us move closer to Hastings, where we are both originally from. They have also given me time off so that I can take Elsie to appointments.

Our older daughter, Evie, is four and has just started school. She’s an amazing and bright young girl and we couldn’t ask for a better sister for Elsie. Evie helps us with all the health care that her little sister needs and they have a very strong bond. Evie makes sure Elsie can play and do things she likes.

The best points about our Army life are the friends we have made. For me, boxing for the corps team, passing my pre-parachute selection course and getting downtime in different countries after exercises have been highs.

Natasha thinks Army life is like Marmite – you either love it or hate it – and she loves it. We have received so much support from my regiment and other families from the estate. She said it is horrible to be away from family with the situation we have, but we manage and we are very much looked after.

We do get involved in patch life as much as we can. We have been to the Armed Forces Day events and we recently did a local charity car wash with friends to raise money for Elsie’s wheels.

Natasha and I know that although Elsie is doing well at this moment, her life is going to be a short one. We wonder every time she gets ill and goes in to hospital whether or not she will be coming home with us. Our welfare officer, Lt Col Walker, 1 RSME Regiment, has helped us with both emotional and financial support. We’ve had help to buy equipment for Elsie as we don’t get any funding from the NHS because she is less than three-years-old.

We cope with Army life because we are lucky to have such great family and friends. Even strangers we meet through Elsie’s Facebook page, who read her story, have helped us raise money for a powered wheelchair so that she can move around independently.

I would describe our Army family as unpredictable, loving and crazy.

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