An Army veteran from Heysham is proudly serving his country in a major sports event for injured and sick servicemen and women being held in the USA.
In 2010, Thomas O’Brien was diagnosed with PTSD attributed to service in Afghanistan with the Scots Guards. His mental illness resulted in the end of his army career, all subsequent jobs and his home life.
He also has osteoarthritis in his knees and hips.
Thomas, 30, is among 40 veterans and service personnel who have been selected by military charity Help for Heroes to represent the UK at the 2018 Warrior Games. The athletes will take part in the 2018 Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games from June 1 – 9 in Colorado Springs.
Approximately 265 service members and veterans representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), as well as the United Kingdom Armed Forces, Canadian Forces and the Australian Defence Force will participate in the competition.
Thomas will be competing in powerlifting, archery and athletics and says his selection marks the start of a new life for him.
“I have tried therapy. I have been on courses. I have been in hospital wards and on all kinds of medication but it always ended with me alone in the dark with no light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
“Attending trials for the Warrior Games brought me out of isolation and gave me an opportunity to try and re-enter society.
“To represent the UK at this stage of my life, when I’d given up on myself and allowed my injuries and my mental health to stop me from being physically active, is incredible.I have discovered that I can still compete even though my body isn’t able to do what it once could.”
Martin Colclough, Head of Sports Recovery at Help for Heroes said “The Warrior Games provides the opportunity for these men and women to proudly serve their country again and have a second chance at life.
“The Warrior Games team represents just 40 of our wounded heroes; there are thousands more out there that need our support, for life. We’d encourage anyone who wants to try something new as part of their recovery to get in touch with Help for Heroes, there’s something on offer for everyone.”