Julian joined the Army aged 16 and loved the physical challenges and new friendships. One year into his service he suffered a back injury which he has had three operations for. His struggles with his physical and mental health were so tough, he tried to take his own life. Thanks to his determination, passion for sport, and having Help for Heroes by his side, Julian has turned his life around and is representing his country again, this time in adaptive sport.
Jules made the decision to leave the army due to his injury – where his mental health deteriorated, and he began drinking. “For years I would hardly speak to anyone. Self-isolation is probably the hardest thing’’.
“I'm a single parent looking after my two sons, one has special needs. The anger and drinking from my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affected my close family who worried that one day they’d get that dreaded phone call. I felt isolated from them because they didn't know how to support me, or how to deal with me.”
In 2016, Jules came forward for support from Help for Heroes and was assigned a case manager. ‘’ I was that overwhelmed, I started crying when he said the words ‘’ ‘we’ll help you’ ’’.
“It’s taken for people to take their own lives, for people to be aware that soldiers aren’t invincible, they're human beings, with feelings. We might put on a brave face but it will affect us. It may not affect us when we're serving, but it might affect us, like it did with me, 14 years later. The Hidden Wounds team at Help for Heroes allowed me to speak openly about my feelings and release those emotions. It’s so important to talk to people who understand’’.
Jules went from strength to strength, seeking support from the Sports Recovery programme at Help for Heroes, he began his Invictus journey, reaching the Invictus UK Trials and being selected for Team UK 2022 in wheelchair rugby.
“I competed in wheelchair rugby at the Invictus Games, it is an amazing sport. When I am playing, I am free from my disability and I’m not in pain. I'm in a zone and I completely forget about my physical and mental disabilities and the challenges of being a single parent.”
“My children have seen me at rock bottom. They've seen me where I couldn't even look after myself, let alone them. They now see me climbing a mountain. I'm not at the top yet, but I'm halfway there. I want to inspire them; I want to inspire my family and my friends. I want them to think this guy, our brother, our son, our dad was in a very bad place, but there's light at the end of the tunnel with hard work, support and caring people around you, such as charities, who give you that belief.”
Jules joined our Autumn catalogue photoshoot to model styles from our new collections and share his powerful story in the hope he can help other struggling veterans come forward for support.