‘You never know what they can do for you’
RAF veteran opens up about how charity supported him after being medically discharged.
For aircraft technician Graham it was his childhood dream to serve in the Royal Air Force, but this dream turned into a nightmare when his own medical discharge and then his wife’s end of service left the couple facing homelessness.
Graham enlisted in the RAF aged 19, he trained as an aircraft technician and by 2007 was stationed at RAF Brize Norton working on TriStars.
Graham, an RAF aircraft technician, was stationed at Brize Norton working on TriStars. While performing routine maintenance, he fell from the aircraft and landed heavily on the hangar floor. The doctors at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford were initially concerned with the bruising to his back and kidneys, but he was eventually diagnosed with a severe traumatic brain injury.
In 2012, when Graham’s wife was also discharged, the family had to leave their married quarter at RAF Waddington. The waiting list for social housing was nine to 18 years long so the RAF Benevolent Fund stepped in to help. A suitable property was found and purchased, under the Fund’s Housing Trust and the family moved into their new home in 2013.
But the Fund’s support did not end there – as a Housing Trust resident Graham was eligible for extra support through the Fund’s Wellbeing and Employment Programme, run in partnership with RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity. WEP provides veterans with an opportunity to enhance their life skills, which in turn can help to improve confidence, communication skills and provide access to training or employment.
Graham has a passion for cars, and has long wanted to rebuild a classic Mini Cooper as a project. Graham’s RFEA advisor Dave arranged for a grant from the Fund which Graham used to buy an old Mini and some new tools and begin his dream project.
RFEA also put Graham in touch with Mission Motorsport, a charity who aids in the recovery and rehabilitation of ex-Forces personnel through motorsport. Graham has attended several track days and hopes to complete an NVQ in mechanics.
“The support I’ve had from the Wellbeing and Employment Programme has been fantastic. I’d encourage anyone to have a chat with them – you never know what they can do for you.
“David knew when I needed a break and he was always there on the phone if I needed him to just ring and have a chat. It was almost like having someone different to speak to if I needed to, welfare-wise.”
If you are an RAF veteran or currently serving in the RAF and you need extra support, please contact the RAF Benevolent Fund on 0800 169 2942 or visit www.rafbf.org to find out more about welfare services and support.
Image: Graham prepares for a turn around the track at Blyton Park, thanks to Mission Motorsport. Photo RAF Benevolent Fund.