Section of 40,000 Strong model force to visit Shrewsbury

Help for Heroes has revealed that injury has forced almost 40,000 men and women to leave the military over the past 20 years. Over 25% of these have been since the end of the war in Afghanistan, despite the British Armed Forces not being engaged in active conflict during this period. The number of Service Personnel whose lives have been derailed by injury grows every day.

In new polling* released by the Charity 70% of wounded Veterans described their medical discharge as “negative” and over 60% felt they didn’t receive enough support while transitioning out of the Armed Forces. Help for Heroes is therefore launching a powerful campaign to highlight the gaps in the Ministry of Defence’s support during the medical discharge process.

The Charity is calling on the Government to review the existing medical discharge process to ensure those forced to leave the military as a result of injuries or illness are given the best possible opportunity to land on their feet and transition well into civilian life.

In their ground-breaking report, published in October 2019 Help for Heroes reveals that:

Some veterans are being discharged with a physical injury before receiving a full diagnosis for their mental health condition(s)
The time given to transition after medical discharge varies hugely
There are problems with the compensation process

(80% of polled respondents said they were not made aware of their compensation award before they left the military; with 1 in 4 of those having to wait over 10 months to find out)

The campaign, launched at the Manchester Arndale Centre with an installation of 40,000 miniature model veterans, was a demonstration of the Charity’s ask to the public to help all wounded Veterans stand strong.

40,000 is more than the number of spectators at Wimbledon Championships and half the capacity of Twickenham Stadium. If placed one on top the other they would be 100 times taller than the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. All together they would fill the new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers 25 times over.

Now, a section of that 40,000 Strong model force is making its way to the Charles Darwin Shopping Centre, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, on Saturday 22nd February. 5,000 of the miniature soldiers will be available to view between 9am and 5.00pm.

Mel Waters, CEO of Help for Heroes said:

“Injuries have ended 40,000 military careers in 20 years and every day this number grows. Many of them tell us that their transition impacted significantly on their health, wellbeing and family. The medical discharge process is seriously failing those who are let down by major inconsistencies in support, so we’re calling on the Government to commission an independent review of the process to close those gaps. With the public’s support, we’re on a mission to ensure every wounded hero has the best opportunity to stand strong in civilian life”

One of the 40,000 Strong to lose their careers to injury is Shropshire veteran Kelly Leonard who will be supporting the event.

The 42-year-old, who lives near RAF Shawbury in Shropshire, is a former RAF Physical Training Instructor, and now a Community Paediatric Physio for the NHS. She had a motorbike accident which almost led to her having her foot amputated. The injury has left Kelly with no mobility due to no ankle joint. She has arthritis in her ankle and needs to use crutches on bad days. With the support of Help for Heroes Kelly is now due to represent Team UK at the 2020 Invictus Games in The Hague as Vice-Captain. She will be competing in wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, swimming and rowing.

“My accident stopped me in my tracks. I learnt to walk again and live the best I could within my limitations. I tried several different individual and team sports but failed to fill the void as I was never able to participate on a level playing field.  I lost focus on sport as a result my physical and mental recovery suffered. It left me with a loss of confidence and self- belief”.

“By taking part in all the training camps run by Help for Heroes I have found myself surrounded by people who do not judge but understand, talk and offer support. They have empowered me to achieve the best I can be. It’s been a turning point in my life. I am back competing again both individually and in a team. I want more. I have started to believe in myself and am proud to show my children, who have never seen me without disability, that with self-belief you can accomplish anything”.

There are 40,000 stories just like Kelly’s. Join us in our mission to help all wounded veterans stand strong and donate to receive your own special edition boxed figure. Go online at https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/40thousandstrong/ or visit the installation at the Charles Darwin Shopping Centre, Shrewsbury.

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