John James ‘JJ’ Chalmers from Dunfermline, served in Helmand, Afghanistan as a marine reservist with 42 Commando. In May 2011 he was seriously injured by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) which claimed the lives of two of his colleagues. JJ suffered severe injuries to his arms, face and legs and underwent treatment at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. He has lost two of his fingers, has undergone facial reconstruction and had surgery on his left eye and both legs.
His recovery has seen many operations including one where doctors took muscle lining from his leg and used it to replace a severed tendon in his tricep. He also had his arm grafted to his stomach for a while to keep it supplied with blood while doctors tried to repair the joint with titanium.
JJ says, “The road to recovery doesn’t go in one straight line. Every time you take a step forward you suffer a knock back. However, when you get over that set back you find yourself further forward than ever before and Help for Heroes keeps answering the call to help with that.”
JJ competed in cycling on a recumbent bike for the Invictus Games this September. Help for Heroes gave JJ a grant to fund this bike so he could take part. He says, “I think the Invictus Games is going to be incredible for a few reasons. First and foremost, for us. Once upon a time I woke up in a hospital bed absolutely broken thinking I’ll never do this again. I’ve got to the point where I realise that I can do a lot of things, but not only do them, but I can compete in them. I just want to keep pushing the boundaries of what I’m capable of doing, and competition is one way of doing it.”
Finally, JJ was part of the Channel 4 presentation team out in Rio for the 2016 Paralympics!