Help for Heroes has announced it is on a mission to support veterans and their families struggling with feelings of isolation and loneliness this Christmas.

For many, Christmas is a time to celebrate but thousands of veterans find this time of year difficult – battling mental trauma, in constant pain, living with a disability and cut off from the world.  

Last winter the Charity saw a 77 per cent spike in those seeking its help*, so it is calling on the public to write messages of support on an online message wall which will then be sent to veterans in a Christmas card.

Will Brown served in the Royal Navy, but a back injury cut his career short and his world fell apart, until Help for Heroes stepped in and gave him a sense of self-worth and purpose again.

“I didn't have an ideal upbringing, and I never really felt I belonged anywhere. I felt isolated from a young age. I’d moved from one bedsit to another since I was 15,” said Will.

“When I got to 21, I decided I needed to do something productive with my life. Being in the Navy, you were part of a team, part of a family. I finally felt like I belonged.

Romford Recorder: Support from Help for Heroes gave Will a sense of purpose again. Support from Help for Heroes gave Will a sense of purpose again. (Image: Help for Heroes)

“I injured my back on a training exercise on Dartmoor, and that led to my medical discharge.  It was a case of, ‘Hand your kit in. There’s the gate. Goodbye.’ 

Christmas was a particularly tough time for Will, now 48, who suffers from several health conditions.

“Waking up alone on Christmas Day, unsure whether I’d see anyone was hard. Sitting there by myself, waiting for 4pm when my children would pop round. Eating cheese on toast instead of a Christmas dinner. No cards, no gifts, no one to talk to. It was a horrible experience.  

“I started saying to myself ‘What’s the point of being here?’ I started thinking that perhaps society would be better off without me.” 

Romford Recorder: Help for Heroes is calling on the public to write messages of supportHelp for Heroes is calling on the public to write messages of support (Image: Help for Heroes)

Knowing that Help for Heroes helps veterans with their physical and mental health, and welfare needs, one of Will’s carers suggested he get in touch. 

“The Charity arranged for a ramp to be fitted at my house. They helped me get an electric wheelchair, they’ve even given me a cost-of-living grant so I can afford to power it.  They also organised a membership at my local leisure centre so I can swim, which is so good for my joints and muscles.

“A whole new world has opened up for me. I’ve got a new lease of life and a sense of purpose again,” he added.

Thousands of veterans will spend Christmas lonely and isolated, veterans who risked their lives for our safety and security.

To write a message of support on Help for Heroes’ online message wall, to show members of our Armed Forces community, like Will, they’re not forgotten visit:

*In December 2022 Help for Heroes received 255 requests for support, compared to 144 in December 2021. 

Romford Recorder: