Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can affect men in different ways, often leaving them feeling depressed and alone
Steven Price Brown joined the Army Reserves at the age of 40, embarking upon a short but intense military career which saw him complete a tour of Helmand Province with The Grenadier Guards in 2012. It was during his time in Afghanistan that Steven assumed the unofficial role of ‘Advanced Team Medic’, providing direct medical assistance to members of his platoon; many of whom were seriously injured during the tour.
The impact of seeing a number of his friends being injured or killed in action meant that Steven’s goal was to get as far away as possible from the war after leaving the Army. He moved to Kenya where he started working as a Mountain Guide, but it was here that his mental health started to deteriorate.
Upon his return to the UK, Steven sought help from several service charities including Combat Stress, Veterans Aid and later Turn to Starboard; organisations who he credits with giving him the tools to move on from his turbulent post-Army period.
ABF The Soldiers’ Charity has given support to all these charities, assisting with the recovery of Steven and many others.
Our grant-giving programme supports up to 100 service charities which deliver specialist support on our behalf each year. Support that Steven acknowledges as being instrumental in his post-Army journey: “Pretty much since the moment that I landed in the UK, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity silently had a hand on my shoulder…”
The Soldiers’ Charity met with Steven in Falmouth Marina where he is undertaking a ‘Zero to Hero’ Yachtmaster’s programme with Turn to Starboard; a military charity that supports serving and retired Armed Forces personnel and their families who have been affected by military operations. The Soldiers’ Charity paid for 22 Wounded, Injured and Sick (WIS) Army veterans taking part in the programme.
The end qualification, the ‘Yachtmaster’s certificate’, enables those participants, some of whom have never sailed before, to gain an internationally recognised qualification in the marine industry. Steven’s enthusiasm for life on board the ‘Spirit of Falmouth’, Turn to Starboard’s flagship vessel is evident: “It’s given me a purpose…It’s given me the strength to look forward and to maybe just puff my chest out a bit more, stand a little bit taller and to believe in myself…What it’s done psychologically and in regard to my recovery is huge.”
By providing internationally recognised sailing courses, Turn to Starboard supports individuals like Steven towards gaining qualifications that will help them find a new, post-Army careers in the marine industry. The charity has given Steven and his fellow crew members more than the foundations for a career in the marine industry, namely a common purpose. Life on board ‘The Spirit’ affords a safe environment where they can talk about their experiences. “You’re in a group of people who’ve all had some kind of challenge from the Services and we all understand a certain part of it…Spirit has to get from A to B, and we all have to contribute to make that happen. It gives you a sense of self-worth and a chance to get involved.”
Steven will embark upon the journey of a lifetime on 1 June 2016: harnessing the power of the wind, a crew will challenge their minds and bodies to sail 2,000 miles around the coast of Britain. For Steven, this is an opportunity to meet the general public, and to change the perception of veterans suffering from PTSD: “You hear about veterans and PTSD and it’s always kind of dour. This isn’t… We’re upbeat and fun, and we’re able to go back to that person that we always were.”