Afghanistan veteran Neil Edward Jones received a financial grant from The Captain David Seath Memorial Fund to purchase a kayak and equipment as part of his sports recovery from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),
Having returned from Afghanistan, PTSD took a firm hold of Neil’s day-to-day life, and he has shown incredible courage in sharing his story with us and describing how the financial grant he has received from The Captain David Seath Memorial Fund has assisted in rebuilding his life.
“I have lost everything in my life and I let PTSD dictate my life up until recently. After losing my family and home with an addiction to Alcohol and with no reason to live I would close the curtains by 2pm-3pm in the day, get drunk to try an enable me to sleep for a few hours prior to 04.45 hrs every day where my nightmares start.
“My whole clock revolved around my nightmares and worrying for the next night; I was tied with no strength and no will to live, there was just no point to keep on fighting a war years later which is tiring with no sign of peace. If I went to a supermarket or busy place I would see an illusion of a little Afghan Girl pulling on my leg, a real memory of an operation I was involved in where I had taken a high profile terrorist prisoner at 04.45 hrs on an operation in his home with his daughter screaming and crying trying to fight me as I dragged her farther away from her.
“The world is a better and safer place with this bad man away, however I still have guilt for his daughter maybe my daughter was the same age at the time or similar age, and this vision has stuck with me to this day. Trying to walk into a busy place like Tesco’s and be normal is extremely hard with a little girl fighting, kicking and pulling your leg screaming at you. Together with the nightmare’s you believe you can never be well enough to work, care for your family or have any sort of life.
“I began to fight back a few months ago; after being homeless, I was first stabilised in a veterans shared home with support then I was housed with an apartment in Cardiff Sports Village with a view of the water from my chair in a corner looking out the window. Therapy is seldom and it feels like there is no end to the life and that it just can’t progress. But I would look at the water and say to myself, if I can get on that water I can train myself to get better for my kids, and just be someone again; not the man I was but if I could take Daniel, my 5 year old son, and Helena, my 3 year old daughter, to do something with me, even if they can some day watch me, they may remember me for something, as they are too young to know me as anything else.”
Neil regularly kayaks with a group of fellow veterans through the Cardiff Veterans Outdoor Activity Club and his recovery continues to go from strength-to-strength.
Tony, a fellow member of the Cardiff Veterans Outdoor Activity Club said:
“I’ve only known Neil for a couple of months; but as a former commando, I’ve seen a number of lads struggle with the challenges of war. His immersion in to kayaking (apologies for the pun!) has unlocked something. Neil has grown in self-esteem and stature. A natural leader, as he encourages those around him he is learning to laugh again and enjoy what he is doing. The banter, the sense of identity and purpose, and his clear intent to achieve something hitherto unknown has helped him find a channel and establish new friendships.
“He appears to have created the ‘space’ to think about life ahead, establish plans, and have a clear goal centred around his family. I can only thank both the donors and trustees of the Captain David Seath Memorial Fund – you should be proud that you are taking forward David’s memory through your generosity. I didn’t have the honour to serve with David while I was in the Corps; but my guess knowing a good many gunner commandos is that he and Neil would have got on – professional, mutual respect, underwritten by humour and humility.”
“I have no regrets with reference to my career and life, I write this letter with a huge amount of pride in my heart and a tear in my eye. I was taken back by the Captain David Seath Memorial fund and how it has helped me and other’s through a financial grant for kayaking equipment to assist with my sport recovery.
“It is a great honour to receive your support from The Captain David Seath Memorial Fund and I am very grateful, It’s extremely hard to talk about let alone write about, but I really want you to know in some form, the difference the financial grant has made to me. Please also remember David with pride and thank you for your fantastic help and dedication to other Veterans.”