"Poppyscotland gave me an opportunity and I took it with both hands."
Richard joined the Army at 17, initially based in Germany with exercises taking him across Europe and further afield in Canada. In 2003, he was deployed to Iraq. During his six-month tour, he witnessed some very distressing events and thought he did his best to carry on as normal after leaving Iraq, he began to experience disturbed sleep and nightmares.
Soon after, he was medically discharged with depression and anxiety, and he was left feeling completely lost.
“I wasn’t registered with a GP so I didn’t know how to get medical support. I moved back with my mum and I didn’t know anything about housing or support. I had jobs here and there but nothing regular.”
With little support, or information on where to get it, Richard began drinking. His situation remained unchanged until 2010 when his then girlfriend became pregnant. Richard knew he needed to get help so he could be a good father to his child. Family members suggested a therapist who had worked with veterans in the past and soon Richard was put in touch with organisations specifically designed to help the Armed Forces community, we were among them.
Richard initially had a temporary role, working for us as a driver for the annual Scottish Poppy Appeal. This led to an offer of a permanent job as a driver for Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory, where Scotland’s poppies and wreaths are made. He views this as the period when things began to come together for him and feels he has gained a lot from working at Poppyscotland.
“I feel I have more confidence now. I find it easier to talk to people whereas in the past I would have kept my feelings bottled up. At one point I thought it was going to be impossible to build trust and relationships with people but the staff and volunteers I met were very welcoming.”
While working at the Poppy Factory, Richard gained his forklift licence and through our Employment Services, we arranged for him to undertake employee training for his Category C HGV Licence, which would qualify him to drive the large vehicles commonly known as LGVs.
Richard successfully used these new qualifications to find a new job closer to home with excellent long-term prospects. We were delighted to help him to move forward.
My time at Poppyscotland opened a lot of doors for me. I probably wouldn’t be where I am now had it not been for the support and I think my life would have still been a struggle otherwise.