How one veteran has battled through complex medical problems to a job he loves and a Fashion Show debut!

Justin King, 40, served six years with the Coldstream Guards followed by ten years with the Royal Logistics Corps which included tours of both Iraq and Afghanistan before being medically discharged in February 2014.

It has been a long road to recovery for Justin whose doctors believe his pelvic, hip and lower back problems; complex thermo irregularity condition and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are all related to his military service and operational tours.

“Help for Heroes was a culture shock – in a good way!”

Justin first came to Phoenix House in October 2012; “I had locked myself away for so long with my injuries that it took some persuasion by my Personnel Recovery Officer to get me to come and see what Help for Heroes and Phoenix House Recovery Centre was all about. When I arrived it was a culture shock – in a good way!” says Justin.

“There was no one particular thing that I enjoyed more than anything else, it just all helped. The Help for Heroes staff are all so friendly and encouraging that they gave me the confidence to get involved with activities and meet new people.”

It was whilst at Phoenix House that Justin found out more about The Prince’s Trust and undertook a 12 week volunteering placement with them. From this he took a permanent role with the charity as an Assistant Team Leader for the Team programme, which helps disadvantaged and unemployed young people aged 16 – 25 to provide them with the skills and confidence to find work.

“With my PTSD I can relate to kids with anxiety problems”

“My job with The Prince’s Trust is brilliant! We focus on getting young people into employment and building their confidence – things that Help for Heroes supported me with. I find that due to my PTSD I relate particularly well with the kids who have anxiety problems, and it is great to be able to provide the support to them that I have received from so many people throughout my recovery”.

When asked if he could ever imagine himself doing what he is now, Justin reflects, “It seemed natural to me that I would join the police or fire brigade, and started looking at those paths, but everything changes when you leave the military. It takes quite a while to get your head around not doing that kind of work”.

Judith Stothard, Head of Volunteering and Secondments North of England for The Prince’s Trust, said: “Justin impressed so much on his placement with us and I am sure that he will be a fantastic Assistant Team Leader. With his background he will be able to provide them with the support and guidance our young people need to move forward in their lives. Without the continued support of our volunteers, we would simply not be able to carry out the vital work we do to help disadvantaged young people change their lives for the better.”

Since becoming a veteran, Justin has been a member of the Band of Brothers – a network established by Help for Heroes that offers lifelong support and opportunities to those men and women, both serving and non-serving, who have sustained career limiting/ending injuries or illness during or attributable to service since 2001.

It was his friends and fellow Band of Brother members who persuaded Justin to take part in the Fashion Show run by Help for Heroes Recovery Centre, Phoenix House in Catterick, North Yorkshire. “It was a couple of mates who had taken part last year that persuaded me to do it. They said it was awesome so I thought I’d give it a go!”

And the verdict?

Justin was buzzing when he came off the catwalk, and when asked how he had found the experience said, “I was so nervous at first but thoroughly enjoyed the experience! I am so grateful for everything that Help for Heroes have done for me and my family. I wouldn’t have been able to get out there on that stage and do that without the support they have given me. I’ve already said I’ll do it again next year!”

Help for Heroes Recovery Centre, Phoenix House works hard to provide the support that our wounded heroes deserve and the Fashion Show was a display of the fantastic progress that so many make during their time at the charity’s Recovery Centres. Many members of the Band of Brothers and Band of Sisters who had been incredibly nervous beforehand, came out of the spotlight with huge smiles on their faces, and it wasn’t only Justin who was ready to do it all again!

Recovery Centre Manager Mo Usman says; “This is the second time that Phoenix House has hosted a Fashion Show. We thought it was amazing the first time, but to see the continued strength, determination and passion of our beneficiaries at this year’s show made the event all the more special. Here’s to next year!”

If you are a veteran in need of help or support, or know someone who is, please contact the Support Hub at Phoenix House on 01748 834148.

To find out more or to join up send an email to: [email protected] Tel: 01980 844280 or apply online: www.helpforheroes.org.uk/get-support/join-our-band-of-brothers

ABOUT HELP FOR HEROES

Help for Heroes offers comprehensive support to those who have suffered life-changing injuries and illnesses whilst serving our country. This is provided through grants to individuals, grants to other charities and organisations, capital build projects and our four Recovery Centres across the UK which will offer support for life. The money raised by the hugely generous public has been used to support our wounded, but there is still so much more to do. Soldiers, sailors and airmen who are injured today will still need our support tomorrow and in the days that follow, for the rest of their lives. They are still battling and we won’t let them battle alone

For more information about Help for Heroes, please visit www.helpforheroes.org.uk