“We all need help sometimes” – A veteran on why you should ask for help when transitioning

Nicholas Bennion was used to taking on challenges in his military career, but when he left the Army he faced the much bigger challenge of adapting to civilian life.

Born in Fiji, Nicholas Bennion came over the UK in 2000 as part of a recruitment drive for the Army.

He passed his physical tests in Fiji, so when he arrived in the UK he went straight into the Army and started his basic training.

“I made a lot of friends,” says Nicholas.  “I learned their culture they learned ours.

“When you come away from that bond in the military, it can be really tough outside because it’s totally different and there’s no bond there.”

“It was a good laugh, a good mix. That’s what the Army’s all about family, trusting one another and I think that’s why the British Army is one of the best because you get to form that bond.

Taking on the challenge

Nicholas served until 2007, going on tour to Iraq twice. But when he came to leave the Army he found it a bigger challenge than he expected.

“When you come away from that bond in the military, it can be really tough outside because it’s totally different and there’s no bond there.”

Nicholas only had four months to prepare to leave the military. He would be going into a culture that he hardly knew. He would have to learn everything from which day the bins were put out to what employment opportunities were suitable for him.

However, he’d faced challenges before and overcome them, so he’d just have to do it again.

“It was pretty challenging because I knew nothing about the outside world. But then again you get trained to face challenges and you just have to get through.

“We were just renting in a room, and though I didn’t see it from my wife’s perspective. It was challenging for her, so she reached out to the Legion for support.

“Without the Legion, I don’t know where we’d be.”

“They gave us the support in the areas that we needed. They came and assessed what sort of help we needed, what my income was, they helped us get a proper two-bedroom flat. Particularly the deposit for the flat as I was on minimum wage at the time so I couldn’t put it together at the time. They helped us with furniture, with some debts that I’d accrued whilst in the Army.

Nicholas in the flat the Legion helped him acquire.

“There’s been many areas where they’ve stepped in and helped where they’ve taken a lot of burden and made it a smoother transition. Areas where I was not able to do it myself.

“It’s still a lot and I’m still learning, but their help was major. Without the Legion, I don’t know where we’d be.”

“Sometimes as a man, you feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness. But we’re all human, we all need help some of the time. We might not think of it, but we just need help.

“The Royal British Legion are there to help you, and without them it’ll be really tough.”

If you or someone you know is a member of the Armed Forces community and facing issues around housing, call us on 0808 802 8080.