Walter Richardson, 36, was injured in Afghanistan whilst on Operation Herrick. In 2016, after nine years of service, he was medically discharged. He lives in Scotland with his wife and four children and is currently completing a social services course at college in Lanarkshire.
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“While in Afghanistan, I was caught in an enemy ambush that knocked me down a hill and I landed awkwardly. I got back to my patrol base and the doctor said it was just bumps and bruises. I carried on and finished the tour, then five months later my leg collapsed underneath me when I was marching down the Edinburgh mile to parade in front of the Queen.
"I had broken my leg in two places and that was the build-up to my medical discharge. I went for physiotherapy and was constantly told to 'man up'. There’s a mentality that if it’s not visible it’s not hurting. You’re fighting a mental battle as well as a physical one. I stayed with my unit, but my leg collapsed again. I went back to hospital and was sent to Headley Court where they diagnosed me with nerve damage.
"I stayed at home while my regiment deployed to Kabul. I was supposed to do resettlement training six months before my discharge but I got lost in the system. By the time they tried to organise a resettlement package it was too late.
"The problems started pretty much straight after I was discharged. We couldn't get social housing, even though we had four kids, and had to rent privately instead. I got into financial difficulty - I was using my Army pension to pay the rent, council tax and bills.
"I got a job in security, driving money around and carrying coin bags, but it only lasted four months. My leg kept giving away and I was dosed up on painkillers.
"Someone contacted SSAFA on my behalf and they helped me out with a month’s rent and with bunk beds for the kids because the ones we had were falling apart and weren’t safe. They also got me a new washing machine. We had a washing machine but unfortunately it was plumbed in wrong so it ruined our clothes.
"We were struggling. SSAFA’s support really helped.
"Last August, I started a one-year Higher National Certificate course in social services. When I’ve passed the course, I would like to help other veterans or work with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds."