(L Cpl) David Jones, 28, joined the Royal Marines at the age of 17 and served nine years, including two tours of Afghanistan (2007/08 and 2011), before he was medically discharged with a back injury in 2015. He has since also been diagnosed with PTSD. The transition to civilian life has been challenging for David, his wife and their four young children. The family moved from Plymouth to their home town in Kent in February 2015 and were housed in temporary accommodation for more than a year including several weeks in just one room. When they were finally allocated housing it was in need of complete redecoration and had bare concrete flooring. SSAFA caseworker Simon Sanderson sourced funding for new carpeting and flooring, a new washing machine and a new cooker for the family.
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David said: “My grandad was one of the original Commandos so I grew up wanting to join the Royal Marines. It was pretty inevitable really. I joined at17 and served all over the world, primarily with 42 Commando.
“I did two tours of Afghanistan. By the time we got out there the second time in 2011 it was a different situation, all the tactics the Taliban were using had changed and we lost some good lads on that tour.
“I injured my back on an Arctic training exercise in Norway which ultimately led to the medical discharge. It came as a bit of a shock. They offered me the option of doing a desk job but I chose a discharge. It was a bit like stepping into the unknown. 42 Commando were brilliant. They even helped with our removal costs. The biggest problem we had during my whole transition was housing.”
Although David contacted the local council nine months before the family was due to move to request assistance with housing, on their return to Kent they were initially housed in a hotel for five weeks.
“We were in one room with four kids – including a newborn baby. We didn’t even have a fridge. It was absolutely horrendous. They eventually moved us into temporary accommodation but it only had two bedrooms and you weren’t allowed to put up curtains so we had to use towels to cover the windows. My wife and I had to sleep on the floor for about 14 months. I was using my pension to pay all our rent and storage fees so that disappeared very quickly.”
David began to suffer from hyper sensitivity and panic attacks and was ultimately diagnosed with PTSD. The family was finally allocated housing in May 2016 and took the first property they were offered.
He said: “As much as it was a house and we were grateful for it, it wasn’t in good shape but we just wanted to move in. We had bare concrete floors which was a real problem with young children. The garden was all overgrown and there was all sorts out there so we couldn’t let the children out to play. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty but I had literally just started a new job and was working six days a week. I did know about SSAFA but I think I was a bit proud to ask for help. I can honestly say I had no intention of calling but things got quite desperate. We just didn’t have the funds to put carpets down so my wife persuaded me to make the call.
“As it turns out our SSAFA caseworker Simon was brilliant. He came round and went through everything with us. We asked if we could get some rooms carpeted so the children could play safely but the next thing we knew he had arranged to get the whole house covered. He also noticed our washing machine was broken and managed to get us a new one along with a new cooker. He kept in touch to let us know what was going on. What he managed to do completely blew me away. I’m so glad I contacted SSAFA.
“I’m in a much better place now. I still have good days and bad days but now I’ve got a job and we’re more comfortable it’s easier to deal with. If I could do it all over again – and my advice to anyone making that transition from the military now would be, make sure you talk to somebody about how you’re feeling. Don’t put it off.”