Gary’s Story

“Receiving a grant towards a furniture package was a huge burden lifted off my shoulders.”

Veteran soldier Gary served three tours of Iraq and two in Northern Ireland initially starting his career as an infantry soldier progressing to Lance Corporal and then promoted to Corporal.

The forty-year-old joined the military in May 1996 straight out of school, following in his father’s footsteps who also served in the forces. He always had an ambition to join the British Army – all his friends were joining and he felt he needed some structure in his life.

He never got injured whilst serving his country but he has been diagnosed with mild depression, anxiety and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) by his psychiatrist.

Whilst serving, his marriage of 12 years started to break down and he separated from his wife. He felt the best way to try and fix his marriage was to leave the services, which he did in August 2010. He tried to stay focussed and decided to study to gain as many qualifications as he could to assist him in securing a job following his career in the military. One unfortunate incident however, led to a short spell in prison but this gave him time to reassess and focus on what he really wanted in life.

Upon his release, his probation officer referred him to Launchpad. He moved in at the end of July 2018 and in addition to safe, secure accommodation, he has also received support in the way of a furniture package provided by accessing a grant provided by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

“My appreciation towards ABF could not stretch far enough. From experiencing adversity in my personal life, I lost all my worldly belongings amongst other things due to unforeseen circumstances.

“Receiving grant aid in the form of a furniture package while becoming a resident at Avondale House and starting over again was a huge burden lifted and I couldn’t be more thankful for their help. Taking away just a little of someone’s worry and stress can have a positive impact on anyone as it has with me.” said Gary.

Staff at Launchpad also helped him to claim the benefits he is entitled to – taking away the stress which he said is a big help.

“Launchpad is a stepping-stone for me to move on with my life. I came here with nothing and literally started from scratch. I know I need support but I like to keep myself to myself. I keep fit and healthy and I visit the gym to do weights, running, cardio work and boxing so it keeps my mind active.”

Gary took it upon himself to gain the GWO (Global Wind Organisation) training standards qualifications he needs to become a wind turbine technician. He said:

“I worked hard to get those qualifications and I have secured employment. I am now working in Germany on the wind turnbines and I love it.”

“If I hadn’t found Launchpad, I would probably have been in a hostel or re-offended. I spent my time in jail wisely – trying to find myself again and seeing where I fit in and belong in life. I’ve got three young children who I don’t see and it’s hard mentally. I’m determined to hit my end goal and when I do, I can look back and it will be all worth it.”

Gary has now moved on from Avondale House and we wish him all the very best for the future.