Al’s story

11 January 2024

We met Al at an Equine Therapy course to which he’d been referred by another organisation. He’d
served as a gunner for 2 years but had left the forces with PTSD, following experiences in training, and
then found that the global pandemic was forcing him to withdraw from everyday life.
Al told us he had found himself avoiding social situations, to the point where he could no longer work
as a tattoo artist because of anxiety and low self-esteem. Initially it wasn’t a problem as Al was able
to carry on creating his tattoo designs from home but, as time passed, he found it harder and harder
to get out of the front door. Eventually he lost all his self-confidence and became demotivated without
any sense of self-worth or purpose. Al knew he needed to get out of this downward spiral but did not
know how.
He spoke at length with one of the VO team and they discussed his goals and his personal strengths
and attributes. One of Al’s ongoing ‘issues’ was his anger and rage – “I’d become a person I didn’t like
very much” he told us.
We arranged for him to attend one of our 3-week Understanding Anger courses with other veterans
in similar positions. Al found this course really useful, as it allowed him to see that he was not alone,
and that what he was going through was more common than he realised. Despite what he had been
through in the past he realised he had the capability to make changes for the future. He said: “I got
so much out of the sessions and now reflect on everything I have said and done in the past and am
learning to be a better person.”
AL wanted to get back into something creative so we invited him to a blacksmithing event. It transpired
he was a natural working with metal and a burning furnace and, within a week, he’d been offered a
permanent place at the forge as a member of staff. His natural talent and undeniable passion for the
craft was too great to ignore. “I love the peace that comes with working with metal,” says Al, “I can
feel the anxiety in me fading and I’m starting to become human again.”
The VO team are delighted we’ve been able to help Al find a new direction in life. He says “My mum
recently said that when I was little I’d said I wanted to be a soldier or a blacksmith. It’s a dream come
true to do both.”