Veteran with PTSD now helping others
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
AN ex-soldier who served nine tours in Northern Ireland has published a veteran’s journal to help raise funds and awareness for other former servicemen and women suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Darren Finley, 51, joined the Army at 17, following in the footsteps of his father. He completed nine tours of Northern Ireland during his 13-year service.
After leaving the Army he joined the British Transport Police. The death of someone close to him triggered his then undiagnosed PTSD.
Unable to cope with responsibility and exposure to stress and trauma, he resigned from his job.
He said: “I was offered bereavement counselling but I decided to step away.
“They gave me the option of going back after two years, but I just wasn’t able to – I was still struggling.”
Mr Finley found himself living at a campsite in Cambridgeshire, working as a campsite warden, when he could no longer afford the rent on his home.
The SSAFA (the Armed Forces Charity) helped him move back to the North East four years ago to Bowburn.
He added: “I was living just around the corner from my parents but I just wasn’t getting any better. I moved to Barnard Castle because my GP said I needed to be in a place where I could get out and do things. But lockdown happened and I continued to go downhill.”
In August, Mr Finley began cognitive behaviour therapy sessions with the mental health service Talking Changes. During session nine of ten, he discovered the trigger to his PTSD.
Mr Finley added: “My therapist talked about gratitude journals but it dawned on me that the SITREP [a
report used in the army that provides decision-makers a quick understanding of the current situation] format worked and I started using it.
“I told him I was going to publish the journal and I sent it to friends and other former veterans to get feedback and it’s great to hear it is helping others.”
His creation, the Veteran’s Journal, is a daily diary planner to detail issues to help
organise people’s thoughts and help relieve stress.
He added: “The SITREP Veteran’s Journal is an amalgamation of those methods in a format other veterans will understand.”
The camouflage cover to the journal is also instantly recognisable to veterans.
He said: “Any money I make from the journals, I am donating to SSAFA because they have helped me so much. If only a few pounds are raised I hope that many people will see how amazing SSAFA is and that the charity is there for people like me when we need it.
“Now restrictions are relaxing, I am looking forward to getting out and doing things. I enjoy socialising and have already booked up for a list of things at The Witham.
“My partner, Teresa, and I are also going to try out every cafe and pub in the area. I am looking forward to getting out and trying new things.”
The Veteran’s Journal is endorsed by SSAFA and the foreword is by Colin MacLachlan, the SAS veteran author and TV presenter.
To order a copy, visit https://bit.ly/3w9sM4O