A former soldier from Guyhirn who has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after serving in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq has described how he sought help after returning to civilian life.
Glen Dellow (51) served in the British Army for more than 25 years before being discharged on medical grounds.
He is now enjoying a new job managing road safety following traffic accidents in the East of England, while also helping homeless veterans on the streets of Cambridge.
Glen said: “I was always interested in serving in the army or the RAF and soon after leaving school I joined the Royal Anglian Regiment. I signed up in 1988 at a time when the army was short of numbers, and I served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq.
“I experienced a lot in the army. I was nearly shot in Iraq but fortunately I had the body armour on and it saved me. Bosnia was also quite bad - I went through a lot there.
“I was slightly aware of having PTSD when I was still serving, but because of what I was doing I was able to suppress it and manage it. It felt like something that had value because it would keep me alert and I could use it to train the other guys who were experiencing similar things.
“I moved to the Royal Irish regiment and was made redundant in 2008 following the Good Friday Agreement, then I rejoined the Military Provost Guard Service in 2009 and served till 2015 when I was discharged on medical grounds.
“There was a period in 2008 when I started my own waste management business, then the financial crash happened and the business crumbled within two months. I really suffered with that and I felt like I’d let a lot of people down. I felt like I’d fallen into a massive pit and I was trying to dig myself out as the sides were crumbling in. It took a Herculean effort to get out of that hole.
“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster with my PTSD and I have ups and downs. When you have a set-back it magnifies all the things that have gone wrong and you feel terrible.
“In 2017 I approached the military charities for help and I was put in touch with Keiron at The Poppy Factory. Keiron was fantastic. He’s given me lots of good pointers and has acted as a kind of go-between with employers.
“Keiron helped me get my current job with HW Martin, going out on the roads alongside traffic officers after an accident has happened. I check the safety of the road, make sure it’s clean and that all the signs and cones have been placed correctly. It’s a really good fit with my military background because it’s about observation, there’s some planning involved, I interact with people and there’s a correct uniform to wear.
“I go out jogging and keep my fitness up because that helps with my mental health. I’m also involved with a group called Veterans for the Homeless, supporting people who are on the streets in our region. I arranged a rough sleep in Cambridge in November and we’ve been stockpiling warm clothes and other items so we can provide immediate assistance as well as signposting people to support. We’re doing what we can - it’s about leaving no-one behind.
“I’ve not been shy about asking for help, and I’d tell anyone who’s going through the same thing to get as much advice and support as possible, and don’t give up. You’ve got to keep pushing forward.”
Eighty-seven per cent of people in the East of England think it would be difficult for someone living with PTSD to stay in paid work for 12 months or longer, new research shows.
The poll of 198 adults in the region was carried out by The Poppy Factory, which helps wounded, injured and sick veterans back into work in communities across the region.
It was commissioned as part of the charity’s Working With PTSD campaign, which shows that with the right support a veteran living with PTSD who may be struggling to fit into the civilian world can move into meaningful long-term employment.
Just two per cent of those polled by YouGov in the region said it would not be difficult for someone with PTSD to stay in work for a year or longer, compared to 38 per cent who felt it would be very difficult and 49 per cent who said it would be fairly difficult. The other 11 per cent said they did not know.
Yet more than half of those who took part in the survey in the region (51 per cent) said they had worked alongside someone who they knew had a mental health condition, and more than two-thirds (72 per cent) had heard of post-traumatic stress disorder and knew how it might affect someone.
Deirdre Mills, chief executive of The Poppy Factory, said: “We know from experience that those who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder can find it very challenging to stay in a job. But with the right support over the long term they often become the most dedicated, passionate and successful workers.
“Four-fifths of the ex-Forces men and women who are helped by The Poppy Factory have mental health conditions and many have complex cases of PTSD. Yet we have been able to help more than 1,000 veterans back into work across the UK since 2010.
“By supporting The Poppy Factory’s Working With PTSD campaign, you can help these men and women secure the positive futures they deserve.”
Of those surveyed, nearly 9 in 10 (87 per cent) felt that having supportive family, friends or co-workers is important for those with mental health conditions at Christmas.
Being able to pay rent and water, rent, electricity and gas bills was next on the list of priorities during the festive season, according to almost seven in 10 (68 per cent).
Four in 10 (43 per cent) felt that having a paid job is important for those with mental health challenges during Christmas. This is alongside the need for traditional festive activities like having social events to go to (45 per cent) or being given presents and cards (47 per cent).
Find out more at poppyfactory.org/workingwithPTSD.