Often, the period immediately after leaving the Armed Forces can be difficult and support is needed to successfully make the adjustment back into civilian life. However, that need for assistance can also crop up further down the road.
For Corporal Alexander “Alex” Watson, it was five decades after he left the Army. Despite the passage of time, we were there to support him.
Life started out well for the 73-year-old who, driven by a desire to widen his horizons, joined the Army at 18. “I wanted to get some life experience. You’ve got to break out and see the world and I had a sense of adventure. I was issued with a train ticket and off I went for my training.”
After seven years of military service, true love prompted Alex to leave it all behind: “I had met the girl who would become my first wife and I wanted us to start our lives together. And, before I knew it, I was demobbed in 1968.”
Alex adapted to civilian life easier than many. He found employment and felt that being married helped ease the transition. His jobs were varied but steady with almost two decades as manager of a caravan site, another eight spent chicken farming and finally several years as a security officer.
Unfortunately, things started to go sour in 2016. In a short space of time, he suffered eviction, fell out with family, and became the victim of financial fraud.
“I got the support I required. It was sincerely felt and really appreciated. Poppyscotland knows what it’s all about.”
“I had no money, and I was homeless for a while. It was a struggle to afford food, but I just had to keep going. When the penny dropped that I had been conned out of all my life’s savings I was devastated. There are times when you wonder how you’re going to go on.”
Little by little, things improved for Alex. The Chief Housing Officer quickly identified that Alex was an ex-Serviceman and was able to find him a flat. Through the same Housing Officer, Alex was also put in touch with us. We awarded him a grant, allowing him to purchase the everyday items - a fridge, pots and pans, electricity and gas cards, a table and chest of drawers - that many of us probably take for granted but which would make his accommodation into a home.
Alex has no doubts when asked what advice he’d give to fellow veterans wondering about approaching Poppyscotland for help:
“Definitely go for it, no matter by what method. They will help you and you will be able to get back on your feet. Don’t let pride get in the way and do not refuse help.”