In 2013 Neil Chantry found himself involved in a serious rafting accident and almost drowned during a training exercise in Kenya. Life as he'd previously known it changed completely.
Neil, a former warrant officer who served in the Army Air Corps for 23 years before he was medically discharged, described the moment he became stuck, saying: "I was trapped under the water and everything went black.
"I then had what I believe was an out-of-body experience. In the past I had never believed in such stories but this event changed my opinion.
"The next thing I saw was my two daughters - everything was bright and the water was so colourful. Then it all went black again. I came around on the bank feeling someone slapping my face."
Neil, who had been deployed overseas to Bosnia, Macedonia, Iraq, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, had been trained to be mentally strong and not to show weakness but this near-death experience caused severe mental trauma.
He tried hard to continue as normal and endured six months of suffering before he finally admitted that he had to get help.
Outlining the elements of his post traumatic stress disorder, Neil explained: "Anything water related would trigger my PTSD. I couldn't bath or shower for over six months and I had to remove the bathroom door so I didn't feel enclosed.
"I couldn't even boil a kettle or tolerate rain. The sound or sight of water would bring me out in sweats and uncontrollable shaking."
Neil was diagnosed with PTSD and was referred to Catterick DCMH where he received continuous mental health care over a three-year period.
This had an enormous impact on his family life - his marriage suffered, which eventually led to divorce. Neil told LADbible: "It felt like I had lost it all, my wife and two wonderful children. It was too much to deal with."
After his Army career and medical support ended, Veterans UK helped him find a job working as an engineer with British Gas and they referred him to Walking With The Wounded's (WWTW) Head Start programme.
Neil saw a therapist called Julie who taught him how to deal with difficult and demanding situations, and how to look at life differently. It had a dramatically positive impact on his life.
He said: "I have ups and downs but I now know how to handle situations without exploding. I can manage my low moods and that is all thanks to WWTW.
"Julie was fantastic. She was really impressed with the effort I put into getting better and all the hard work paid off. I made a promise to her that I was going to push myself and make her proud of me."
Neil sent Julie a photograph of himself kayaking in a river, and she asked whether she could put it up in her office to show other clients what can be achieved when you put your mind to it.
He has recently sent Julie another photograph, depicting him on a jet ski with his daughter, happy and enjoying life, once again able to experience good times with his children.
Neil concluded: "I have been given the chance to start a new chapter in my life - and I have."
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