A Paratrooper's Journey - Terry Wood

Date: Friday September 27, 2019 at 8:46am

Stoll is the leading provider of supported housing for veterans. Stoll supports the most vulnerable Service Leavers by providing an affordable home to rent and the support they need to lead independent lives. People come to Stoll at various stages, from those who have just started their transition to civilian life to those who require assistance much later. 

Terry Wood served in the Parachute Regiment from 1979 to 1988, serving in Northern Ireland and the Falklands War. His brother, also a Paratrooper, had already been killed by the IRA at Warren Point.

During the Falklands War Terry was part of the machine gun platoon, experiencing a lot of close combat as well as working as a medic, evacuating casualties that followed the worst attacks. Dealing with prisoners following the Argentinian defeat, Terry stopped one man who wouldn’t let him search his kit bag. Eventually he managed to get it off him and when he opened it, it had the man’s dead brother in it. Terry recalls how that took him particularly hard.

On returning to the UK, Terry suffered from nightmares and flashbacks, as did many of his colleagues. Unlike today, there was no ‘decompression time’ given to members of the Armed Forces following the Falklands War and they were thrown straight back into civilian life.

In the mid-90s Terry suffered from a nervous breakdown. He got divorced from his wife and went into a dark place. Unable to find the support he needed, Terry was depressed and suicidal, sofa-surfing and sleeping in his car for about 18 months. Eventually Terry got put in touch with the Veterans’ housing charity Stoll, who were able to find him a flat at the Sir Oswald Stoll Mansions. Through Stoll and the NHS Terry was able to get help from a psychiatrist who was able to make a huge difference to his PTSD.

Despite setbacks due to serious health problems, Terry managed to carry on and felt ready to move on from Stoll once recovered. He applied to Stoll’s Veterans Nomination Scheme to help him find a new home. Since then Terry has started a successful catering business and he and his wife are expecting a baby in January 2020.​

Terry’s story highlights the reluctance people often feel to come forward and ask for help. Looking back on his experience, he reflects on how pride is a big thing for a Paratrooper and asking for help doesn’t come easily. Over the years, he has encouraged others to reach out for help and has referred some of his colleagues to Stoll. Terry emphasises that it’s important to look out for others who might not be coming forward, to identify signs of mental health issues in your friends and help them if and when they need it.​

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