Liam Martin, 27, joined the Army at 16 and served with First Battalion, the Royal Green Jackets. He completed tours of Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan but was medically discharged in 2014, five years after being diagnosed with PTSD. Liam is unable to work and SSAFA has assisted the family with payment of rent, utility bills and removal expenses. Liam now uses running to help him cope with his PTSD.
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He said: “I deployed to Iraq in 2006/07 aged 18 on operation Telic 9. I went to Kosovo in 2008 and in May 2009 I went to Afghanistan. Then in 2011/12 I went back to Afghanistan. That first tour of Afghanistan I was in Sangin with 2 Rifles. I was 20. I was at the head of the patrols looking for IEDs with a metal detector. The whole tour was very hard. Every day you walked out the gate not knowing if you would be coming back.
“It was a hard tour for everyone and we lost a lot of people. I started to black out on patrols once we came under fire. An IED would go off and after everything had calmed down I would just black out. I got medivacked back to the UK on my 21st birthday and it all stopped when I came home. I was downgraded so I was supposed to be unable to deploy after that, but somehow I got sent back to Afghanistan in 2011.
“Fortunately the second tour was a lot calmer. It was a winter tour so it wasn’t the fighting season. When I came back I was downgraded again. I was suffering with flash backs and having nightmares every night and it was affecting my work. I had been put in the stores so I was a storeman for my battalion and I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere which also had a massive impact on me.
“I was medically discharged in November 2014 but I’m still struggling now with the transition. I had to go back to my dad’s initially and sleep on his sofa. I was in a really bad place – unfit, unwell, I just didn’t have any get up and go. I just used to stay in the house and not do anything. My brother got me into running again. I was just over 15 stone and really unfit and he thought it would be good for me. I have been running ever since.
“Meeting Judy was a turning point for me too. We had a baby in August and we needed a bigger house and a fresh start but I’m unable to work for the foreseeable future because of my PTSD.
“I had managed to get a job in a warehouse after a year but I found it extremely hard and struggled to cope with the simplest things – even talking to people. I took a turn for the worse after I got unfairly dismissed and I was pretty much rock bottom. Fortunately Judy knew about SSAFA and thought they might be able to help. She called and Peter from SSAFA came round to see us. He organised for me to get some help with my mental health from Combat Stress. Because I had lost my job we had nothing. I didn’t have any savings and we were falling behind on our rent. Peter was amazing in helping us get back on our feet.
"My brother got me into running and Judy has supported me with it throughout. She gets me out the door to do things. I started blogging about my running as well at gingerrunningman.com which actually helps so much. I do lots of races. I set myself the challenge this year that I would start with a 5km run and this month I’ll be doing a 100km run. I’ve gone from being 15 stone last year to 12 stone this year and running 100km. I used to hate running but now when I’m out running it really helps and who knows how far I can go?”
Like Liam, if you're serving or have ever served and need support, we've got your back