• The Old Grain Store, Redenham Park, Near Andover, Hampshire, SP11 9AQ
  • 01264 771658

Mark Colman

Veterans in Action - Mark Colman

My name is Mark Colman and I served in the Royal Engineers and then worked as commercial diver on leaving the service.

Due to an incident whilst diving where I lost a friend in a diving accident my mental health started to deteriorate, and I started to become angry which resulted in getting into some trouble. I was at a loss and didn’t know which way to turn but knew I needed help.

It was then in 2010 that I found Billy MacLeod and Veterans In Action and I began the long road to recovery.

The methods used by the charity with participation on long-distance walks across the UK covering 1,000’s of miles with veterans like myself suffering from mental health issues suited me and inspired me to achieve far beyond my expectations.

I became fully involved in the work of the charity on 100’s of fundraising events and expeditions and began to see improvements in my own mental health and those alongside me.

In 2012 I took on the biggest challenge of my life to raise funds for the charity which was to undertake a Guinness World Record attempt for the longest submerged dive in a controlled environment.

This was huge for me as I hadn’t dived since the loss of my friend in the diving accident but with the support and the determination to achieve, I set foot into the diving tank on the 18th of June 2012 and resurfaced 5 days later.

My mental health had improved hugely over the time I had spent with the charity, and I moved on into full time employment in a much better place mentally.

Inspired by the ethos I had learned from this time I went on to set up my own successful courier business and still spend as much time as I can working alongside veterans as a volunteer mentor.

Veterans Mental Health Awareness Standard
The confederation of service charities
Veterans In Action is a Registered Charity No. 1128026
LOCATION
Veterans in Action
The Old Grain Store
Redenham Park
Near Andover
Hampshire
SP11 9AQ
CONTACT
  • 01264 771658
  • info@veteransinaction.org.uk
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ALIVE VIRTUAL CHALLENGES are unique compared to those you might find through an internet search. These challenges not only make a difference for yourself but also for military veterans who have experienced the effects of war or who have struggled with transitioning to civilian life.

Unlike traditional challenges where you simply pay a fee and receive a medal, our challenges are all about MAKING A DIFFERENCE by raising funds equivalent to the mileage you complete.

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I needed focus I needed something to fill my time, well maybe not fill my time but something to focus on like a target, a needed to get back my drive.

I started to help VIA ‘Veterans In Action’ and found something that I could do, use the old skills that I learnt in the army and more since I left which I did not register I had.

I had been missing that motivation to do something that I wanted to do and gain that level of self-gratification and achievement.

Everybody has a skill set, but it’s the motivation to use it we can lose, VIA have various projects on the go all the time, hopefully I have found my niche to help them and myself to gain personal gratification by being  a member of a team again and a job well done.

After discussions I realised that it’s this which advances my mental well-being and my ongoing fight against depression and the feeling of worthlessness.

I have woken up, helping hand in hand with fellow soldiers suffering from labelled disorders finding strength from weakness, realising what helps them generally does helps me, the recognition has been an awakening.”

Ian ‘Chalky’ White former 17th/21st Lancers and B Sqn 22 SAS

Veterans In Action have been filming our expeditions for many years for our YouTube Channel, Veterans Expeditions Overland, and through this experience of not only running the expeditions but also capturing footage that enables veterans who have taken part in a place of reference to recapture how they felt by taking part.

The Veterans In Focus project enables veterans to learn new skills and record not only the expeditions we run but also the day-to-day work on all projects connecting them all together so everyone feels involved in all aspects of the work we do.

VIA take a long-term approach to helping veterans who suffer to enable them to grow within a project working alongside their peers. All this can be achieved within this project which can be ongoing and would allow veterans to learn new skills or to pass on skills learned during their time in the services

Some of the outcomes of the project are a sense of purpose, regaining confidence and working in an environment alongside other veterans where they can instantly feel relaxed, chilled-out, secure, and safe.

Veterans can work at their own pace, stop thinking negatively, concentrate, learn new skills, be part of building something, and most importantly where problems are understood this will positively impact mood and stress levels.

For those involved in the project, they can also get involved on an expedition HERE

I became involved with VIA in 2010 after my life took a turn for the worse and was invited along to do some fundraising with them.  This helped me no end and in time my life got back on track.  I completed a Union Flag Walk with them from Cape Wrath to Land’s End which again helped as walking and talking with other veterans with similar stories was a great help in understanding how I was feeling.  I gained control of my life again.

In 2019, I took part in an overland expedition travelling through the Spanish Pyrenees and whilst away my life took a turn for the worse again due to family problems back in the UK.  On my return I had to start again and rebuild and focus on the future and with the help of Veterans In Action I got back on track and took control.

I now own and run my own courier business.

Mark Colman former Royal Engineers

To date, we have travelled 25,000 miles travelling through 30 different countries and some of them several times both on overland expeditions for humanitarian aid through the pandemic and more recently supplying medical humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

It is important to note that to take part in one of our overland expeditions we insist that veterans get involved in the BUILD IT part of the project. The reason for this is part of the Post Traumatic Growth process which is our method for helping veterans so that veterans can grow within a team of their peers, learning new skills and relearning old skill sets that may have been forgotten after service.

Leading up to an expedition involves expedition training which will include off-road driving, navigation, camp setups, camp cooking and daily maintenance, something most veterans will understand from their time in the services.

It would be unfair for any individual to turn up on the day of an expedition who hadn’t previously been involved as everyone else would have been working together over a long period of time so due to the very nature of the mental health problems of those we take out on expedition turning up on day 1 for any individual could become very difficult to find where they fit in no matter how welcoming everyone was.

It is the involvement long-term on building the vehicles that enable veterans to grow that gets them to a place where they fully enjoy all aspects of the expedition experience starting from the minute that an overland expedition sets off.