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Reservist and Legion volunteer

Volunteer

As well as being a nurse and Army Reserve, Ben also volunteers for The Royal British Legion.

Ben always wanted to be a nurse after he’d taken care of his grandma when she was sick. But he didn’t want to go down the traditional route and end up in a normal hospital.

He wanted more of a challenge and to see the world. So with his 18th birthday approaching he decided to do something different with his life. He joined the Army.

97 year-old Royal Naval Veteran, Marsie Taylor, tells Ben's story

Joining the Army

After signing up, Ben did three months of basic training which came as a shock. It was unlike anything Ben had experienced before.

“It’s tough, but it prepares you so that you’re ready when you go to a new or hostile environment.”

It was when Ben started passing the basic infantry tactics that he knew he was ready to become a soldier. Though he’d joined up to be a nurse, Ben found himself in the artillery doing an infantry role before he knew it.

Army nurse volunteer Ben Poku

But the desire to help those in need hadn’t gone away though. After three years in the artillery, Ben took the chance to pursue his dream of becoming a nurse. So in 2003, whilst Ben was training on artillery guns in Germany, he started the process of transferring over to the prestigious Queen Alexandra Royal Army Nursing Corps. As the nursing branch of the British Army, QARANC can trace its origins back to Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

Ben went ahead to study at the Defence School of Healthcare Studies, getting his nursing degree while he was also being deployed in Iraq. While there he treated multi-nationals, such as Iraqis and Americans, as well as British troops.

“It was a challenge to go over there in a nursing role and apply the training I was doing, but it was a great introduction into becoming a nurse.”

Going the extra mile

In 2007, after meeting a case officer for The Royal British Legion, Ben decided to give even more back by volunteering. He acts as the first point of contact for those that need support.

Studio portrait of army nurse Ben Poku

“The Legion means everything to me, that I can be there to help Service men and women.”

“The Legion means everything to me, that I can be there to help Service men and women.”

As well as helping those who need immediate support, Ben also provides action plans for those that need a longer term plan to improve their situation. As a soldier, Ben can sympathise with the troubles that people bring to him.

“People come to the Legion when they’re over their heads. Knowing that I’ve supported someone who’s been able to get their independence back is an amazing experience.”

"It makes me proud"

One particular case stands out for Ben. A soldier, who was from Ghana like Ben, had come out of the military after he was injured in Iraq. It was hard for this soldier to accept what had happened to him and to tell his family.

Ben had helped him through rehabilitation and back into civilian life.

“I was able to travel back home with him to make sure that his family took the news in good faith. I wanted to make sure that there was balance in the care that was provided.

“When we were in Ghana, we involved the psychologist to help talk the family and this guy through it. I was worried about how it would turn out, but in the end it was a really happy moment for this individual.”

“It’s being able to help like this that makes me proud to be in the military and be able to support the Armed Forces community both as a nurse and as a volunteer for the Legion.”

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