"As much as it has been a worrying time with most of the squadron in barracks or rotating through, it has been a privilege to be part of the UK’s response to COVID-19 and I am extremely proud of the amazing service personnel who together carry out such an important role at such a difficult time.”
Some of the men and women we’ve supported have recently stepped up to serve our nation in the fight against coronavirus. Thanks to people like you, they’ve regained their strength after illness or injury and taken their place back on the front line.
Major Andy Kerr, who is a serving soldier with the Royal Engineers, is one of them.
His unit helped co-ordinate Military Assistance Teams (MATs) who were involved in the design and construction of the Nightingale and other temporary NHS facilities.
Major Kerr explained: “The squadron I command provided the wide range of support functions to enable this to happen. In a single day, the squadron ensured that 20 or more MATs were able to self-move and deploy to task.
“We continue to support the response by providing mechanics to help design the vehicle borne pop up test centres and maintain the vehicle fleet, both civilian and military.
“As much as it has been a worrying time with most of the squadron in barracks or rotating through, it has been an privilege to be part of the UK’s response to COVID-19 and I am extremely proud of the amazing service personnel who together carry out such an important role at such a difficult time.”
We supported Major Kerr, who has served with the Royal Engineers for 36 years, after a severe neck injury in 2013 led to a downward spiral in his mental health. Before his injury, he played rugby and other sports at a representative levels but was forced to give up. Struggling to accept that he could no longer perform to the high level that he had previously, both physically in sport and at work - and longer able to train with his daughter - he began feeling like a failure; withdrew into himself and cut himself off mentally from his family and friends, ultimately leading to depression.
He sought help from our psychological wellbeing team to deal with the mental health problems which have been present not only since his injury, but also as a result of his service.
He said: “The part of this journey that had the most profound effect on me is when I have just sat and listened to other athletes and ambassadors on the same journey. To hear how this journey has helped them is truly amazing and it is these chats that gave me the inspiration to push for the help I need.”
He also sought support via our Sports Recovery Programme and was selected as part of Team UK for the Invictus Games 2020. He is now actively involved with rugby coaching again and is slowly re-building his relationship with his daughter.
Some of our veterans and serving personnel like Andy have recently stepped up to serve our nation once again, this time in the fight against coronavirus. Thanks to people like you, they’ve regained their strength after illness or injury and taken their place back on the front line.
At the same time, the coronavirus pandemic is having a big impact on many of our veterans’ mental health. Since the start of the outbreak, we’ve seen a significant rise in the number of requests for help and a 50% increase in the number of veterans who feel they are not managing their mental health well. They, and their families, need our help now more than ever.
Together, we can help them regain their strength. Together we are stronger.
*Data from 1,161 wounded veterans and serving personnel who took part in a survey sent by Help for Heroes during the week commencing 11 May 2020 to over 15,000 wounded, injured and sick veterans, serving personnel and family members to understand how their support needs have changed during the Covid-19 pandemic