Lee Edwards, from Wigan, joined the First Battalion, Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment in 2000 and was a section commander when he took the decision to move to the Royal Army Veterinary Corps in 2007. He said:
I used to train dogs before I went into the Army and I wanted to work with them again. I did one tour of Iraq and two of Afghanistan as a dog handler with RAVC.”
Lee and his dog Molly were with 101 Military Dog Working Unit in Afghanistan in 2009. They were in Sangin supporting a team searching for IEDs at night when one of the soldiers triggered an IED.
Lee was blown up in the air by the explosion but still went on to save the life of a fellow soldier badly wounded in the blast for which he received a Certificate of Commendation from the Chief of Joint Operations. He said:
I didn’t realise I had a brain haemorrhage until I got back from the tour. The day after the blast I went out and did another search with Molly and she found an IED factory. They arrested four people.”
The experience was one that Lee found hard to cope with and on his return to the UK he struggled with PTSD.
Lee was put in touch with SSAFA’s mentoring service which supports wounded, injured and sick service personnel making the transition to civilian life through one-to-one mentoring sessions. He said:
SSAFA have helped me massively. Andrew my mentor has helped me out so much. When Andrew first came round I told him what happened to me when I was blown up. He was just the right person for me to be matched with. He has given me the confidence to start my own business and to deal with day-to-day life. He’s always just a phone call away and has made me feel like I’m someone again. I have had more support from SSAFA since I left the Army than I did when I was in. I thought there was no hope but now I have got my own business, I’ve managed to get onto the property ladder and I’m helping other people.”
SSAFA are the longest serving national tri-service military charity. For over 130 years, we have provided lifelong support to those who are serving or have ever served in our Armed Forces.
Our support covers both Regulars and Reserves in the British Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force and their families, including anyone who has completed National Service. They are all entitled to lifelong support from SSAFA, no matter how long they have served.
Last year SSAFA supported 67, 616 people like Lee, 8% more than in 2015 showing how important the work SSAFA does is.
We help serving personnel, veterans and their families across the UK. Our network of around 7,000 committed volunteers worldwide offer welfare support for people throughout the military community, from World War Two veterans to the families of young service personnel wounded in Afghanistan.
Our branches provide help for veterans and their families in the community while, our in- service volunteers work on military bases to help families meet the challenges of service life.
To find out more about visit the SSAFA website.
SSAFA is a registered as a charity in England and Wales Number 210760 in Scotland Number SCO38056 and in Republic of Ireland Number 20006082. Established 1885.