Attleborough veteran takes on marathon feat to raise support for injured veterans
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016
A former military man who supports veterans tackling mental health problems will face a marathon test to raise awareness of their plight.
Rod Eldridge, of Queen's Road in Attleborough, will brave the 26-mile London Marathon in April in aid of Walking with the Wounded, a Norfolk-based charity which helps wounded veterans across the country adjust to civilian life and work.
The 52-year-old, who joined the Army in 1986 and left in 2012, hopes to educate the public on the challenges faced by those leaving the service.
'The perception held by many is that those leaving service normally end up developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and this is not the case,' he said. 'For those who are affected, it is more often by other mental health difficulties such as depression or adjustment disorders. The research also shows that drinking levels are high.'
Mr Eldridge, who is the Attleborough Royal British Legion branch president, also wants to dispel the negative image associated with a military career.
'There is a perception that people always get injured physically or psychologically, but most thoroughly enjoy it and adjust back into civilian life,' he said. 'There is a real sense of belonging and camaraderie and they learn life-long skills.'
As a clinical lead for Walking with the Wounded, Mr Eldridge, who completed eight operational tours, spearheaded its Head Start project, a programme which addresses the needs of ex-service personnel suffering with mental injuries.
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He is also working with Norfolk Health Watch and the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust to launch a pilot veteran mental health pathway scheme.
Mr Eldridge said: 'Men are notoriously poor at seeking help, particularly in relation to mental illness. The stigma associated with mental illness is well-known, but it is arguably accentuated in the service and veteran population, which forms a barrier to those seeking help, often leaving themselves and those who love them to suffer in silence.'
He advised veterans to tell their GPs about their history and to access the wealth of support available.
With hopes of raising £2,500, Mr Eldridge said he would be offering, for a donation, presentations to local groups interested in the Armed Forces and its mental health provision.
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