Philip Kimber joined the Armed Forces initially as a Reservist in 1992 before going on to be a fulltime soldier. Coming from a military family, he wanted to follow in their footsteps: “I was getting bored at home and thought, ‘let’s give it a go’. I kept it quiet in the family so they were shocked when I told them.”
Over the next 15 years, Philip served with the RAF Regiment, enjoying the challenges and camaraderie so closely associated with the military: “It was hard work, but good times. That was until 19 July 2007.” Serving in Basra, he was on the receiving end of a heavy rocket attack: “One landed a few feet away from me. It killed three of my mates and severely injured another. I was pronounced dead at the scene.”
Flown back to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Philip flat-lined three times over the next 24 hours. Brought out of his medically induced coma, he was told the extent of his injuries. These included a brain injury, his head spilt open in two places, shrapnel in his left eye and a damaged eardrum. His neck and ankle were was also broken and muscle had been lost from his left arm.
After leaving hospital Philip spent time at Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Headley Court. Over the next year, as he battled to return to a normal life, his mental injuries started to worsen. His personality changed and he became easily angered: “I couldn’t stand things like lights and loud noises. I was just sitting at home on the bottle, in denial over what was wrong with me.”
Being diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) turned out to be a massive weight off his shoulders: “It was a relief to know that there was something wrong with me.”
As his mental health started to improve following his diagnoses and subsequent treatment, Philip joined Help for Heroes’ fellowship the Band of Brothers. Being around likeminded Service Personnel past and present and taking part in activities has marked a major turning point in his recovery: “People say ‘Phil, you’ve changed so much in the last year’ and it’s because of Help for Heroes. It’s brilliant, I’ve made friends and done so much. I’ve learned to live with my PTSD and now feel like a human being again.
“To all Help for Heroes supporters, keep up the good work. We all appreciate it. Being with the Charity gives you hope and the feeling ‘I can do things’ instead of just sitting at home. You believe that there is opportunity out there.”