Mike Buss and his Beyond Impossible Team including Julian Hogan, Zaqarii Casper Cryda and long time friend and fellow ex-soldier Gary Bradshaw, who served with Mike with the 2nd Bn The Royal Green Jackets, have launched Sleep Out for Heroes raising money for Help for Heroes to get the message out there about the real life effects of war and why so many former soldiers are now either homeless or serving sentences in prison through no fault of their own.
Mike served with the British Army and it was during an operational tour of Northern Ireland that he was almost killed by an IRA car bomb whilst out on patrols. He was only 20 feet from the explosion which result in the death of two soldiers killed and 34 injured, including Mike.
Due to Mike’s injury he was medically discharged from the army after serving the best part of 10 years, a career that was all he ever wanted from the age of 10. Mike said that the day he was told he was going to be medically discharged from the army his whole life fell apart, - "my heart raced, I had never experienced life outside the wire and what civilian life had for me, I was devastated".
It wasn’t long after Mike left the army that he found himself in London and eventually a statistic. Reports have found that as many as 1 in 4 people on the streets of London and other cities of the UK are ex-soldiers of which many are suffering from mental illnesses such as PTSD bought on by operational duties such as the recent combat tours of Iraq & Afghanistan.
It is reported that as many as 17,000 serving and ex-serving soldiers are suffering from PTSD and it is expected that a time bomb is ticking which could see over 100,000 PTSD sufferers in the next decade. For many, PTSD won’t even surface for up to 14 years and Mike, who is being treated for PTSD himself, was only aware that he could be suffering from it in the last year, triggered by recent events in his personal life totally un-associated with war.
Mike said “I feel guilt that I'm here and others aren’t, why was I spared? I see the guys in Afghanistan right now and would go tomorrow if asked and stand side by side with my fellow soldiers, but I can't so I do what I can back here raising money and awareness for wounded soldiers' needs when they come home. These guys are heroes, and they should be treated as such and not left to rot on the streets of our cities.”
"I am hoping that on Thursday 17 November, on the day Swindon turns on its Christmas lights, many from Swindon will join us under the Big Screen to spend one night rough to see just how it feels to sleep under the stars with no one caring if you live or die. And if you can't join then we will be out in force that night with collection tins. I'd like to think we can raise £4000 from the expected 10,000 Swindon residents who will be out to see the start of the festive season in Swindon.
The problems with our forgotten heroes don't stop there, with a huge rise in ex-service personnel ending up in our prisons also. It is estimated that over 20,000 ex-soldiers are in prison or on parole, that's 1 in 10 of our prison population. Many of these young men are suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and due to being forgotten about and lost in civilian life end up in trouble through no fault of their own.
In one case, an ex-soldier fired a crossbow at his wife after experiencing a flashback. The man was arrested for attempted murder although his wife pleaded for him not to be. He ended up in prison with 30 other ex-servicemen all with mental health issues. Combat Stress (the soldiers mental health charity) regularly gets calls from the partners of men returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, concerned that their men are showing classic signs of trauma: nightmares, night sweats and uncontrollable flashbacks.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg" says Mike who with Gary Bradshaw have a friend, who they served with recently, in prison for attempted murder. He has been suffering from extreme PTSD for years and although going through therapy with charities like Talking2Minds has ended up homeless and now in prison. If only he had been supported and assessed early on then he and many others like him would not be suffering now.
Mike’s own life with PTSD has meant him losing his family and not seeing his son for nearly 6 months which has left him devastated and he has therefore channeled all his energy into raising funds and awareness as therapy for himself, giving him a purpose and the sense of duty he once had in the army.
If you would like to support this event and join the sleep out then please contact Kirsty at inSwindon on: 01793 485 523 and register your place or just make a donation to the online fundraising page set up by MORE RADIO FM and Mike http://www.bmycharity.com/moreradiowiltshire
Several Swindon Companies are sponsoring and supporting this event including: inSwindon, flic Wiltshire, Johnsons Cars, Millets, Beyond Impossible Personal Training, MORE Radio FM
If your company would like to support this event with volunteers or sponsorship please contact Mike on: 07791 356 482