An army veteran who battled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has successfully rebuilt his life with support from Remploy.
Paul Harding, 54, from Newport, south Wales, was a Lance Corporal in the Royal Signals serving in Northern Ireland when, in 1982, he was wounded in a pub bombing that killed 11 soldiers and six civilians.
“I had to crawl over dead bodies to get out, but I was very lucky – I only had cuts and bruises,” he recalled. “The psychological damage, however, was long lasting and had a devastating impact on my life.”
He left the army in 1990 after 14 years’ service and worked as a long distance lorry driver. “I never kept a job for very long. If something annoyed me I would just walk away and get another job somewhere else. I thought I was normal and that everyone around me had problems, but the reality was that I was the one with issues.”
Recalling the day two years ago when the past finally caught up with him, Paul added: “It was like all the padlocks in my head broke at once. I could no longer distinguish what was real and what wasn’t. I’d had nightmares for years and would get flashbacks, like a DVD player in my head that I couldn’t turn off.”
Paul was persuaded to seek urgent medical help, marking a turning point in his life.
“I had no idea what was wrong with me. I didn’t even know what PTSD was at that stage, but I was put on medication straight away. I was very scared because I thought I might be locked up. In fact, I ended up seeing a specialist psychologist as an outpatient.”
After 18 months’ treatment he felt ready to return to work and it was then that he was referred to Remploy’s Newport branch for specialist support.
“Remploy helped me decide what job I wanted and sent me on training courses to give me another string to my bow. My employment advisor was a great sounding board and everyone at the branch was very supportive. I’m now working as a maintenance engineer at a care home in Abergavenny and I can honestly say I look forward to going to work every day.”
Clive Ward, Remploy’s ‘Armed Forces Champion’ at its Newport branch said: “Paul is an inspiration. He had very low self-esteem at first but by the time he moved back into work his confidence had soared. Seeing that kind of change is one of the best parts of my work."
“I served in the Royal Corps of Transport for 24 years so I know what it’s like to leave the military and have to start a completely new life. My role at Remploy is to help veterans like Paul understand that they have many transferable skills that are highly sought-after by employers. We find a lot of employers value ex-service personnel because of their discipline and flexibility. We help work out where their skills would be of most value to an employer and can organise and fund training courses as well as help write CVs and prepare candidates for interviews.”
Added Paul: “Remploy made all the difference for me. If they can help me, they can help anyone!”
Picture caption: Paul Harding
For further information and interview requests, please contact Remploy press office: 0300 456 8121
Notes to Editors:
- In the last five years Remploy has found more than 80,000 jobs in mainstream employment for people with a range of physical, sensory and mental disabilities and other disadvantages.
- Remploy partners with more than 2,500 of the country’s biggest employers including Marks & Spencer, BT, ASDA, Royal Mail, Sainsbury’s and the NHS
- Remploy has an increasing focus on providing specialist disability employment services to people with mental health conditions or learning disabilities
- It has a successful specialist service which supports ex-service personnel who have left the forces with disabilities or health conditions
- It continues to invest in developing innovative approaches and services for employers which are cost effective and business efficient including consultancy and a vocational rehabilitation service