ARMED Forces veteran Russell Wright has written about his own experiences of living and learning to cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in a bid to help others find light at the end of the tunnel.
Russell, who now works as a support time and recovery worker for 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, served for 16 years in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and Intelligence Corps, including two tours of duty in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.
In 2009, he was diagnosed with PTSD and thought he would never work again. He began seeking help and treatment through veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress, which led him to volunteer and gain experience in a series of NHS organisations.
Russell, aged 63, said: “When I was declared unfit for work due to my condition, it became part of my fight to get back in to work to help others in a similar position. Now, 5 Boroughs Partnership has given me a permanent role and listens to my advice which means I’m really able to help people.
“I wanted to write this book to help other veterans and their loved ones to see it is possible to recover. You don’t have to go through continuous psychological trauma all the time, there is help out there but you have to accept it. I’m living proof that you can get yourself out of this darkness; this is just a different kind of battle for veterans to fight.”
The book – Recovery – begins with Russell’s last deployment as a photographer in Northern Ireland, where his psychological trauma started, and follows his journey through treatment to where he is today.
He explained: “It took me four years to write but I’m very proud of it. It’s a warts and all account of what I’ve been through. It’s raw and it’s difficult for me to read even now. It goes through what my life was like, how it deteriorated and how I managed to climb out of the hole with the right support.”
Russell hopes his book will be adopted by the NHS and other veteran support groups as recommended therapy reading for those suffering from PTSD.
Jeanette Mather, matron for quality at 5 Boroughs Partnership, said: “I first met Russell at interview and was touched by his life story – he was incredibly honest about his experiences from the start. I knew he would be an asset to our Trust, and his commitment to raising the profile of veterans’ mental health and the support needed for their families is commendable.
“Books like this which bravely share real life journeys with positive outcomes can be a huge help to those who are struggling to come to terms with a similar situation. I hope Russell’s story can help others find hope and take steps to recovery.”
Recovery is available to buy online, priced at £8.
Army&You has one copy of Recovery to give away. To win, email your details to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Wednesday 1st March.