Cpl Mark Stephenson
Cpl Mark Stephenson, 37, a ground electrician based at RAF Wittering sustained a career-ending arm injury in July 2015 after falling and dislocating his elbow and shoulder. He is due to be medically discharged in February 2018 after almost 20 years service which has included tours of Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. The married father-of-one has been supported through a difficult time by Matt Rowe of SSAFA’s Personal Support & Social Work Service who provided practical and emotional support and also liaised with Mark’s line manager on his behalf.
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Mark’s work as a ground electrician covers a multitude of areas ranging from fixing and maintaining X-ray machines and radar equipment to vehicle maintenance and runway lighting. He was in Scotland with colleagues working on air conditioning units when the accident happened.
“We had almost finished the job and I picked up the tool box and went to walk out but there was a big metal lip on the floor of the doorway. Basically the bottom of my boot caught the lip and I fell six foot. I managed to get my hand out to save my head but it took all my body weight and the weight of the tool box.
“I took some painkillers but I was in agony. I went to hospital the next morning and they took some x rays. They had to manipulate the radial head back into the elbow joint. I had another x ray three weeks later and they also found a fracture in my arm. When the cast came off it wasn’t any better. I couldn’t raise my arm and I couldn’t use it to eat.”
Mark underwent surgery to repair a damaged nerve but later found he was losing feeling in his hand and further surgery was required. He said: “I’m left with reduced sensation and mobility in my arm and I get severe fatigue if I overuse it.”
He was posted non-effective from September to November 2015 and after a brief return to work was downgraded. “I was just so low throughout it all. I couldn’t drive which made life really difficult. My wife was my main carer and she was having to look after me and drive me everywhere two months after we had our baby daughter. For the first nine months of my little girl’s life I couldn’t pick her up. I was having to get the train to work and it was costing a lot of money that we couldn’t afford.
“In the end I went to see Matt at SSAFA because I needed someone to help me out. I felt like I was losing the plot. If it hadn’t been for Matt I would have lost a lot of things in my life because I just didn’t know where I was going in my life. His guidance and advice was invaluable. He would say ‘have you thought of this, have you tried that?’ He was there for me when no one else was and he was someone I could go and talk to. I can’t fault him. SSAFA have been absolutely amazing.
“I wasn’t expecting to have the accident or for any of this to happen. What Matt’s done for me is amazing. His perspective was always good to have.”