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national Gulf Veterans and families association
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Veterans' stories
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What the NGVFA means to our members, in their own words:

Veteranís partner, Redditch

The NGVFA continues to ensure that veterans of the Gulf are not forgotten. After being recommended to contact NGVFA a number of years ago their help and support proved and continues to be invaluable. Just knowing that we are not alone anymore and that other families were going through the same as us helped. Knowing that the service is there certainly gives comfort to me and my family every day.

Mr Caldwell (veteran) and family

Myself and my family have received fantastic help over many years and always found the staff at the N.G.V.F.A friendly and understanding. An example of this dedication is the yearly respite which is much needed to all veterans. The prospect of the charity closing due to financial issues is very up-setting now and in the long-term. Myself and my family hope the charity continues its great work. Kind Regards.

Andy Hazard, Veteran

My name is Andy Hazard, I'm an ex-Royal Engineer. Without the help of the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association, I don't think I would be around today. When I first began having health issues - back in 1997, I had no idea that they could have been Gulf related, I just thought I was losing the plot. I basically ground to a halt both physically and mentally. As I was never deployed to the Gulf theatre of operations, I never considered that my problems were common to both deployed and non-deployed Gulf veterans. At my lowest point, I managed to get in touch with a fellow veteran - Terry Walker - who told me about the Association.

They gave me the support and information I needed to get my life back on track, provided a peer-support network and most importantly let me know I was not the only non-deployed veteran with problems. They gave me support through the long and difficult process of claiming a War Pension and relevant benefits, guiding me through the bureaucracy and representing me at a number of successful War Pension Appeals Tribunals.

They also arranged an annual respite break, where I was able to meet others in the same position as me, share experiences and forge friendships that have got me through some rough patches over the years.

It is a disgrace that in the year of the 25th anniversary of the Gulf War, funding for the association is being withdrawn. I have no doubt that without the support of the NGVFA, more lives will be lost. We cannot allow this to happen.

Veteran, overseas

Having being medically discharged from the Army in 2010 with mental health problems, I was facing some huge challenges most notably having to deal with chronic and severe PTSD.

On top of this were issues concerning a dragged out Service complaint against the MoD/ SPVA regarding missing medical documentation, poor man management on behalf of my former Regiment and never ending War Pension issues which involved having to challenge SPVA and all of its decisions made. This involved having to attend 3 War Pension Tribunals.

In early 2012 I decided to make contact with the NGVFA as I was struggling to cope with all of my issues although I was fully aware the MoD were hoping that I would pursue my issues no further. Having become a member of the NGVFA they put me in contact with another member who lived in my local area. After several meetings with this individual and having regular telephone conversations with staff members it became obvious that the association was on my side. I attended a respite week in March 2013 which I enjoyed immensely and I was very grateful for the financial assistance I was given to attend the week in Butlins. This week without doubt gave me a much needed chance to "recharge the batteries." I also approached the NGVFA during this time requiring assistance with my ongoing War Pension issues. Due to the expert advice and assistance I received during yet another daunting War Pension Tribunal, I finally was able to put this behind me.

I am currently attending a 6 week intensive PTSD programme at Tywhitt House. I am concerned about the financial issues the NGVFA are having. From a personal point, I am a proud member of the association and would have struggled to tackle all of my issues without their assistance. I am still experiencing severe PTSD symptoms however, knowing in the back of my mind that the NGVFA is there to support me when called upon gives me huge relief that I am not alone.

Veteran, Sleaford

I was medically discharged from the RAF after displaying many of the symptoms we now know as GWS. My discharge documents show the reason as Fibromyalgia as a result of Active Service and awarded a War Pension accordingly with a 50% disability annotation. My medical records are meticulously accurate... apart from my 12 jabs received the day before I deployed to Ops on Gulf War I... quoting the medical staff "these are classified jabs and you do not need to know what they are"... hence the lack of record?

My symptoms, in basic terms, are a mixture of Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis (auto immune) and Alzheimerís and the severity of this combination can fluctuate from mild to severe triggered by weather, physical stress, mental stress and so on. I have had bilateral full hip replacements and right knee full replacement, cancer twice and my wife has suffered 5 miscarriages. I walk with sticks and I am in physical pain/discomfort all of the time. My automatic nervous system is shot and I cannot regulate my body temperature. All this being said... my state of mind is very good, I accept my pains and happy with life.

How has the NGVFA helped me? Giving me good information on GWS which I then passed on to my GP for his better understanding, I get to read about others suffering similar symptoms and pick up useful hints. I realise that I am not alone in this, there are many more who suffer far worse than me and whilst my version of GWS can be hard to live with it is not a life taker but a life changer... NGVFA is there for me and whilst I am lucky to live a reasonably comfortable life I know that I have them in my back pocket should I need them and this is of great comfort. Thanks for your continued support!!

Veteran, Lancashire

I was 18 when I served in the Gulf war, I am now 43. I have 3 children, 8, 6 and 3 years old. I believed I was getting old and moody until December 2014 when I was taken to hospital with a suspected heart attack. I spent 5 days in hospital with the doctors and consultants admitting to me that they were unsure if I had, or havenít had a heart attack. I thought great this is all I need, days before Christmas with the specialists not knowing what to do.

On day 5 the consultant started asking questions about my other symptoms and my work history. I told him about the military and the Gulf War (I saw a little light bulb come on above his head). At this stage I knew very little about Gulf War Illness and had never linked my symptoms toward the Gulf War. A few hours later the consultant returned and informed me that I was going home. I was confused but the consultant explained that he believed that I had Gulf War Illness and that I would have to speak to my GP.

It was great that I was home but what was Gulf War Illness, this opened up a can of worms and I didnít know which way to turn.

After looking on the internet I discovered NGVFA and gave them a ring. It was a huge weight from my shoulders knowing others understood me and they were able to help. They held my hand and talked me through different processes.

I discovered with the assistance of NGVFA I was also suffering from mental health problems resulting from my service. They supported me and set up immediate support in my local area. This was kept in place until NHS support kicked in.

When I visited my GP I was shocked at her response. She checked my notes and confirmed that I had been diagnosed with probable Gulf War Illness. She then told me that Gulf War Illness does not exist. She then went on to prescribe me with numerous drugs to combat my symptoms. I informed her I did not want drugs but I did want to know why I was ill.

This is a battle I have been fighting for over a year, in November 2015 I met a doctor who did believe me and he believed that Gulf War Illness did exist.

Without the help support and information provided by NGVFA I would not be able to understand why I was ill. I would not be able to talk to so called professionals about Gulf War Illness, how can you convince a doctor you are suffering from something that official according to the Government does not exist.

Veteran, Essex

I'm a veteran who was in the gulf war 90/91! I suffer with PTSD, Gulf War Syndrome. Both my knees are badly damaged. My back is badly damaged at the bottom & in the neck plus many many more injuries all down to the army & the gulf war! I went to the respite last year which was the first time I had been & it was the first time that I had taken my daughter out with me with just me & her & she's now 12 years old !!! The NGVFA Respite is the only time that i felt comfortable to be there & that's all down to the NGVFA members of staff who are so kind to help you out with the smallest of problems you have they are family which makes the respite even better !! We had such a great time me & my daughter are looking forward to going again this year!

Veteran, Kent

I served with 33 Sqn Royal Corps of Transport in the 1st Gulf war & our role was to keep the front line supplied with tank ammunition & supplies.

Prior going to the Gulf I had just finished a very active tour of Northern Ireland & just turning 20 years of age before we went into Iraq. I was involved in a incident where I was left alone at night in enemy territory with only a rifle to defend myself & was nearly captured but managed to keep myself alive. It was quite a lot of responsibility for a young soldier to carry, I did not know it then but it was to affect me in later life.

I joined the NGVFA in 1993 after coming out of the Army and although I did not need their help at that time it was reassuring to know they was there if I ever did, I did not know that in a few yearsí time I would become unwell & needed their help as things was falling apart for me & my family.

I worked at London's New Covent Garden Flower Market as a porter and life was going fine, a young family just starting out with a good future ahead of us then things started to take a turn for the worse, I was becoming unwell mentally & physically due to my past Army service catching up with me, I had to give up my job which was devastating. My relationship with my partner broke down and I was on benefits so had very little money to survive.

When at my lowest point the NGVFA stepped in & bought a mattress that I desperately needed, they also encouraged me & my estranged family to go on the annual NGVFA rest-bite as we could not afford to go on holiday, I believe this played a big part for us getting back together. Recently I needed representation at a war pension tribunal in London & Maria from the NGVFA came along and pleaded my case, if it was not for her I would not of gone as this is something I could not do alone. I can honestly say from the heart if it was not for the NGVFA things may of turned out for the worse.

Veteran, Kent

Rita has been a life line to me. One of 1st females to undergo injections for Gulf (still no injunction certificate from MOD) and after 2 years of 5 different consultants, still no answers. I've lost my 3 kids because I suffer from extreme sweats & fatigue, about to lose my house also. I know that I can at least get support from NGVFA, even if NHS just treat us like Hypochondriac's.

Veteran, Lancashire

I am writing in support of the National Gulf War Veterans and families Association who have fought tirelessly for over two decades for each and every member of its ranks and even for those that are yet to turn up and become members.

As every new member arrives he or she is given details to bring them up to speed as regards to ALL of their social issues from financial advice to mental welfare and social assistance, as per the individual or the family.

The organisation is the ONLY place that all members have received an honest welcome and found a respectful place for them to ask questions and discuss their problems without losing dignity or self-respect at the hands of a government that will not believe their troubles or anxieties surrounding ill health or mental welfare.

The NGVFA is a safe haven that will not judge or scrutinise anybody but they will treat veterans with respect and dignity Ė quite often this is the first time a veteran may have ever felt this respect and dignity as the treatment of Gulf War Veterans especially has been somewhat woeful to say the least.

Veterans from the Gulf War have often come away from interactions with the government, MOD and pension people being damaged and traumatised by that encounter than when they first sat discussing it

That is not fiction, you can ask any member of the NGVFA and they will have nothing but HIGH regard for every member of the working staff that often bend over backwards to help others.

The NGVFA is the only organisation that recognises the feeling of neglect and mistreatment, especially as many of the staff have encountered it for themselves, first hand as they too are veterans or from veteranís families.

The NGVFA is struggling financially and they will be forced to close this year. The staff have fought to keep it open by working many extra hours and by making and selling items to try to keep funds coming in but they can only do so much.

If you, your organisation or others are able to assist the NGVFA financially then I would love to thank you on behalf of the many thousands of veterans that are in Vital need and dire straits of your good will and generosity that is needed to help get the staff and offices afloat once more.

Thanks to your generosity I can assure you that lives will be saved and the grip of depression and financial neglect will get torn away by thousands of veterans who come into contact with this fine organisation that you have decided to support, now.

Johno (Paul Johnson)

I would like to say how much the NGVFA have helped myself and my wife Diane.

Until we were introduced to your charity we had been fighting my illnesses and injuries alone and in the dark for 20years. I had multiple injuries and illnesses caused by my military service. These include gunshot wound whilst serving in Northern Ireland, acute renal failure heat exhaustion rhabdomyolysis PTSD spinal injuries to my L T and C spine. I had never come to terms with mixing with strangers after my service. I have been out of the Army for 23 years and have lived in the same area for that time. I have no civilian friends as I cannot mix with the civilian population. The NGVFA came to our rescue just at the right time as we were struggling mentally as a couple. I have been fortunate to go on 2 despite breaks and have another to attend in March. The physiological support you give me and my wife is immense.

The supported receive is far better than any of the 28 tablets that I have to take every day.

I can only sing very high praises for the charity for what they do for us. I have even been able to go to an appeal for my war pension and was helped through all aspects and was represented by Maria.

Please feel free to use my name on this statement.

As far as I am aware there is no other charity that is better equipped to meet all of our very complex individual needs. There's always someone there to assist and help. We know there is HTH but they are too large to receive the individual support and binding that we have through you. Thank you so much

Councillor Gosling, North Lincolnshire

Can I introduce myself to you as a former serving soldier 24817738 Trooper Gosling RAC class 1 Tank Crewman (Gunner Mechanic). My unit was the 17/21st Lancers, demobbed Queens Royal Lancers now The Royal Lancers. I served in Gulf War 1 with C squadron Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (RSDG), and also a reservist with the same unit Bosnia 1996-97.

Apart from severe hearing loss right ear due to Tank gunnery, I do not consider myself to have any systems or be a victim of Gulf War syndrome. My reasons for joining the NGVFA are to support fellow comrades and veterans who clearly do suffer the effects of war.

Whether the pain or scars be physical or mental, young people were thrust into a war environment experiencing situations and events unimaginable to the majority of society. Gulf War Syndrome has been derided and undermined by Governments and media which has not helped the plight of veterans, leaving the NGVFA in many cases their only support mechanism.

Please support the NGVFA and ultimately the innocent victims of War.

Veteran, overseas (formerly South Yorkshire)

It has now come to my attention that the NGVFA have had their funding cut off, they are now in financial difficulty, a lot of gulf war veterans rely on the above charity while there is nothing or nobody else that understands our plight, would it be possible that you could Write something about the charity and what it does and the plight that it is in.

If you are interested in the plight of Ex Regular, TA and people who had left the armed services, up to 20 years before the gulf war began, these people including myself went out there not knowing if we would return, a lot of us are now ill due to our service in the gulf, my family are struggling from day to day as a result of my service.

The NGVFA are at hand for my family and I personally do not know how life will be without the help from these fantastic Men and Women who have helped me and many more gulf war 1 veterans in their daily fight.

As a Yorkshire lad it would be great if you could find a way to help the NGVFA.

Veteran, Hants

I have used the expert services of the NGVFA for the last 2 years. I am also a fully paid up member of the group. The NGVFA have represented me in regard to 2 claims I had to make due to illnesses from my service in Afghanistan. I have always found them to be very helpful, knowledgeable and always ready to help (unlike some other organisations). That includes travelling from Hull to Southampton in order to represent me at a recent tribunal.

The NGVFA also helped when I met a fellow Gulf war veteran who was desperately in need of help and advice but was too nervous to contact anyone about it. I called the NGVFA, gave them the veteran's details and they contacted him directly very soon afterwards.

The closure of this remarkable organisation would be a severe loss to both ex≠ servicemen and those still serving. The NGVFA is a remarkable asset with a vast amount of experience in dealing with veterans, their families and various government organisations. I would urge anyone willing and able to help the NGVFA to do so.

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