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

Supporting Our Veterans: A Journey Towards Healing and Togetherness

Billy MacLeod

At the heart of our community, a transformative programme is unfolding, offering hope and camaraderie to those who’ve served our nation. This initiative provides not just a support system, but a journey of recovery, resilience, and mutual growth for veterans and their families. Let’s explore the crucial elements that make this programme a beacon of hope for our veterans.

Finding Purpose – How I overcame mental health to create a programme to help veterans who suffer

A Thriving Veteran Support Programme

The programme has seen remarkable success, with over 1,700 visits from veterans, many of whom served in recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Innovative projects like ‘walk and talks’ have greatly enhanced the sense of community. These initiatives foster a supportive environment for veterans and their families, promoting understanding and harmonious growth.

A Personal Odyssey: From Struggle to Empowerment

The programme’s origin lies in the personal struggles and insights of its founder, Billy MacLeod, MBE. Traditional therapeutic paths offered little comfort after his service. This led to the discovery and adaptation of a Wilderness and Adventure Therapy programme from Australia. Focusing on peer support and progressive engagement, the programme provides a sanctuary where veterans can navigate their healing journey at their own pace, without the pressures of conventional timelines.

Impact and Evolution: A Tapestry of Change

The programme’s ethos is to provide a structured yet flexible environment where veterans can forge bonds, share experiences, and rediscover their purpose. The profound transformations seen by participants and their families underscore the programme’s effectiveness. It’s a testament to the power of solidarity and the crucial role of a supportive community in facilitating recovery and personal growth.

Facing Challenges: Fostering Hope and Community Integration

Despite its successes, the programme is overshadowed by a harsh reality – the spectre of veteran suicide. This grim challenge highlights the programme’s mission. Initiatives like creating a memorial bench for a fallen veteran signify more than a tribute; they symbolize the programme’s commitment to fostering a supportive community. The programme cultivates a holistic support system, weaving a safety net of understanding and shared healing, by involving families and extending its support beyond the individual.

Looking Ahead: Sustainable Growth and Community Engagement

The programme aspires to expand its reach and deepen its impact in the future. The goal is to establish a sustainable model that can weather the financial challenges faced by many charities, despite the complex terrain of funding and partnerships. The emphasis on providing continuous support, especially after exhilarating experiences like expeditions, ensures that the journey of healing and integration is grounded in reality, offering a stable path towards long-term well-being.

In conclusion, this veteran support programme is a testament to the resilience and spirit of our veterans and a reminder of our shared responsibility to support those who’ve served. By engaging with the programme, through donations, spreading the word, or simply offering a listening ear, we each play a part in this noble mission. Let’s unite in honouring and supporting our veterans, fostering a future where hope and camaraderie guide the path towards healing and unity.

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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Virtual Challenges

The Three Challenges

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.