Army veteran Brian on finding his way back from a dark place

After being diagnosed with PTSD, then losing his wife Teresa to terminal ovarian cancer five years later, Brian found himself unable to cope. We supported him and helped him get his life back on track.

Brian was an Army diver for most of his career.
I never expected to do a full career, and I especially never expected to have an extended career.

Brian joined the Army at the age of 15 as part of the Army Youth Team in Cairngorms, Scotland.  

He’d never planned on staying in the Armed Forces for long, but ended up serving for 41 years – 26 in the Regular Army and the last 15 as a Reservist - completing tours in the Falklands, Sierra Leone, the Balkans, Angola and Northern Ireland.  

Thriving career as a marine engineer


His primary trade was as a marine engineer, a position which required seven years training.


He served onboard logistic and assault ships and was responsible for the maintenance and repair of everything on board the ship: “It was like running a small town” says Brian.  

He also chose to qualify as an Army diver, a job which involved underwater construction and engineering.  

Amongst his achievements, Brian was a pioneer in the training of women as marine engineers, and in 2022, the first female Army diver passed the rigorous Army Diving Course.


PTSD diagnosis & losing his wife Teresa 


In 2012, while working as a Learning and Development Consultant for the Hampshire Constabulary, Brian suffered a breakdown. 


He had to take a week off work with executive stress and was advised to seek help.  


Eventually this led to a diagnosis of PTSD in 2013, linked to his service in the Falklands War 31 years earlier.  


“I didn’t realise how much my psychological wellbeing was impaired,” says Brian. “I was self-medicating with alcohol. I could smell burning all the time and could not switch off. 

“You become numb, you have no joy in your life, everything is very mechanical, you just survive, you don’t live. You go from one nightmare to the next. You also don’t want the stigma of PTSD, so you hide it from everyone.” 

Brian spent eight weeks with Combat Stress before being medically discharged from the Reserves and let go from his job.


That same month, Brian’s wife Teresa became very ill. It wasn’t long before she was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer, and in July 2018, she sadly passed away. 

Over a very short period, I lost my employment, my identity, my income, my wonderful wife and I struggled with “why me, what have I done to deserve this”, I nearly ended it all.

Turning to the Royal British Legion for support

After his wife’s death, the RBL offered Brian six months of grief counselling.  

 “A fantastic practitioner from the RBL came and saw me every two weeks. He was very, very helpful.”  

An RBL case officer also advised Brian that he should consider a war pension and DWP support. After the tribunal, where we supported Brian with a lawyer, his pension was increased by 20%.  

Brian went on to complete courses at the Battle Back Centre – our facility in Lilleshall that supports wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans. He participated both as a serving soldier and took part in the first ever veterans’ course.   


“The legal and financial services are outstanding. The grief counselling was everything I needed at a very challenging time in my life. Battle Back was a significant support and a welcome respite. 


“If there was any advice I’d give anyone, I’d tell them to get help sooner rather than let it build up over the years.  


“The Poppy Appeal isn’t everything – the RBL does so much more than that.  

“It was them that helped save me and the family during challenging times.” 


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