Bravo to the Legion’s Poppy Supporters!
You deserve a round of applause from Matt Wightman and everyone at Bravo 22. Thanks to your very generous support, The Royal British Legion is able to help fund this incredible recovery and wellbeing through the art project. Bravo 22 helps ex-Service people like Matt to gain new skills, rebuild their self-esteem and, day by day, learn how to adapt to civilian life.
Encore! Hear more about Bravo 22.
Watch this video to hear from the ex-Service men and women who are turning their lives around thanks to your support.
When he left the Army, Matt felt like “a fish out of water”.
Civilian life came as a shock to Matt. After 14 years of Service and comradery, he simply didn’t know how to navigate Civvy street. With jobs thin on the ground, he jumped at the chance of working on an offshore windfarm. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Until Matt began to feel very isolated and alone.
I wasn't sleeping… I was spending a lot of time walking around the top deck of the ship all night.Matt Wightman
At night, Matt’s mind wandered back to his tours of Northern Ireland and Bosnia.
When Matt managed to steal some sleep, he’d often wake up screaming and shouting.
The onboard doctor sent Matt for brain scans, which led to months of investigation. But it was a routine visit to his GP that changed everything for Matt:
“On the way out of the doctor's surgery my hand was on the handle and she said, ‘is there anything else’ and I turned around and had a breakdown.” Soon after, Matt was diagnosed with PTSD.
When Matt told his sister about his diagnosis, she simply said: “I didn't even think you'd go into the Army, I always thought you'd be on a stage or something.”
Matt’s sister got him thinking and, as luck would have it, an advert for a theatre group especially for ex-Service people popped up the next time he logged onto Facebook. But when Matt arrived at Bravo 22, he was nervous and not sure that he’d made the right decision. “I spent the whole time thinking ‘I definitely won’t be coming back here again.’” But with some gentle encouragement, Matt did come back.
Show by show, Matt’s confidence began to grow
Over the weeks that followed something incredible happened. Matt says: “the seeds of confidence had been sown and I began to enjoy being me again. I felt like people believed in me and subsequently I began to believe in myself.”
Since then, Matt’s self-esteem has continued to soar. He’s taken part in several productions, including a year-long theatre show. He’s also forged a great many friendships with people who truly understand him: his Service family.
Ex-Service men and women can turn their lives around thanks to the generous people who help to fund Bravo 22 – Poppy Supporters like you.