Steve Hooper in team huddle at Invictus Games

The Invictus Games gave me my husband back

RAF veteran Steve and wife Jennifer on how the Invictus Games have been transformative for their family. 

Jennifer and Steve met in 2010, a year following Steve's PTSD diagnosis resulting from his experiences whilst on deployment in Iraq. 

"I joined the RAF to be a mechanical transport driver. I just thought I was going to be driving vehicles and servicing aircraft," says Steve.   

"I then got deployed to Iraq for the first time and I ended up being effectively a paramedic driver. I saw all kinds of injuries – losing limbs, severe wounds, fatalities.     

"It’s beyond scary and coming home was very difficult. 

"Everything I’ve been through, my wife and kids have been through it too," adds Steve. 

"I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2009 and didn’t meet Jennifer until the end of 2010, so I was already in a bad place and she’s only ever known me to have a mental health struggle."   

From the start, Jennifer has been Steve’s rock: "She’s been fully supportive, helped me through it and given me a kick up the bum when I needed it."  

Turning point

Steve felt things were beginning to improve with therapy, but the Covid-19 pandemic set him back.  

"I was struggling to sleep and having flashbacks," says Steve  

"I would sit in the garage with the door shut - hiding away was an escape. It was not wanting to really exist in the most brutal sense." 

"Every day I was scared for Steve," adds Jennifer.  

"My worry was that the easiest thing for him to do was to finish things, just to want life to stop.  

Steve Hooper at the Invictus Games

"The significant turning point for Steve getting better was applying for the Invictus Games." 

After his medical discharge in 2021, a former competitor encouraged Steve to apply for the Invictus Games and his selection for Team UK had a profound impact, not just for him but for the entire family. 


"Before Invictus, we didn’t really talk about Steve’s recovery as we were just living it day to day. We’ve seen him at his low points, and it’s been difficult," says Jennifer. 

Steve Hooper playing sitting volleyball

"Now, we get to see this brighter husband who’s rekindled a piece of his former self. We are getting to enjoy him more and seeing him flourish again has been incredible.  

"Previously, if Steve was struggling, he’d retreat to the garage and avoid social interaction.  

"Now he channels that negative energy in a positive way to embrace those challenges, and not shy away." 

Steve Hooper with son on his shoulders Jennifer Hooper and family Jennifer and Steve Hooper

"The Invictus journey pushes you to limits that you didn’t know you were capable of," says Steve. 

"It has given me an opportunity to show my children you can be knocked down, but it doesn’t matter, you can get back up again. You just keep moving forward."   

The Invictus community has also fostered a new sense of belonging for Jennifer and instilled a strong feeling of mutual support.  

"The Invictus family is so special, and it feels like you’re all on this journey together. The community-feel is wonderful; something that we’ve missed since moving away from the military."

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