Former Force Protection NCO Ben, suffered increasingly with a range of balance, muscular and co-ordination issues to the extent doctors thought he might have onset dementia. It was during tests, that an MRI scan picked up bright spots of damage in Ben's brain and it was found that Ben had experienced a traumatic brain injury during his days in the RAF.
Starting in the Officer Training Corps before joining the RAF in 1997, Ben served in conflict zones including Kosovo and Sierra Leone. He also played rugby for the RAF. Symptoms of his brain injury started to impact on his life and became progressively worse after leaving the Service in 2002.
Ben sought support from Help for Heroes in 2015. He says,'You always think there are people far worse off than you, who are more deserving of the help because of what they've been through and that is not what Help for Heroes is about. It fulfills a need for people to grow and develop outside of the military'.
Creativity, in the form of photography and design, has been a key outlet for Ben. It's also a new career path which he manages around his condition through self-employment.
Through the Band of Brothers fellowship Ben seized an opportunity to get involved with designing a range for our Armed Forces Day Collection. Joining a creative workshop run by the Shop Team he was amazed at the talent of the other Veterans. He really enjoyed the creative process, saying 'It's an amazing feeling to see my work used and it has really helped with my confidence'.
Ben models his Proud to Support Lion motif as a T-Shirt design, alongside model Christine who wears an accompanying Unicorn T-Shirt as part of the range.
Armed Forces Day for Ben: ''For some it's a gathering of old friends and comrades. For some it's a moment to reflect. For family members it's a moment to reflect on the safe return of loved ones. Nationally it's become a focal point for what the Armed Forces can achieve. It celebrates what's good about being a Veteran and that's very important.''
Ben Skipper on location in the New Forest with fellow Veteran Jaco van Gass and his partner Kathryn Pringle and our Help for Heroes models' Barney and Christine. All modelling the new Proud to Support Lion and Unicorn T-Shirts.
The full Proud to Support collection includes patriotic and premium styles, including a Union Jack Proud to Support T-Shirt, hoody and polo; all to inspire you to stand proud, and show your support for our Veterans and their loved ones.
''Support from Help for Heroes is not just for the Veterans it's for the families as well. The support is for events, facilitating sport and creativity and camaraderie. I am amazed at how many things they do and amazed at how far they make those donations stretch.'' Ben Skipper