Moving On Up

Housing Option – Rent from a housing association

 

David Reid interview

 

Our very first Military Matters client, ex-army David Reid is getting ready with partner Theresa and wheelchair user daughter Michelle to move to a brand new Sanctuary Housing Association bungalow on Glasgow’s south-side. His story charts a journey of self-discovery, inspiring all of us who worked with him to help make this possible.

Joining as soon as sixteen, David’s army life took him proudly, but then precariously to war, leaving him with what is now widely recognised as PTSD- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder- a legacy he was unaware of at the time and is only now making better sense of as he copes also living with pulmonary heart and lung disease.

As Theresa can see, settling back into Civvy Street was more surreal for David than most.

 

Some of the things that he was exposed to are sometimes too much to take in; sometimes, I just can’t help him at all.” 

 

With no advice about his entitlements when he left the armed service, or any word of the pension he paid into, David “just got on with it”- leading to a period of  “self-destruction,” and at one of his lowest points, homelessness.

 

“After all these years of keeping quiet, I can now recognise what happened to me.” 

Meeting Theresa helped bring back hope for his future and the couple started to plan  a fresh start.

This brought them to Glasgow, where unfortunately things didn’t look too good at first, taking them to a series of sub-standard private lets including one “infested hell-hole” in a rapidly declining area.

It was only when his GP alerted him to various support networks he hadn’t previously known existed that David began to feel more empowered.

Part of this process was getting in touch with Glasgow’s Helping Heroes– established in 2010 to improve advice and support for service personnel and families.

 

“ There wasn’t anything like this when I left the army; there must be hundreds like me who didn’t have a clue.”

 

Glasgow’s Helping Heroes got David more focused on his housing, and when he got in touch with us, he was able to talk to people who understood exactly what he was going through.

 

“I found it easy to speak to Claire- she knew the army speak and knew exactly what she was talking about.” 

 

At this time, they were in a flat that was not only useless for Michelle’s needs but also damp.  Using our Housing Approach Report we got them planning for happier homes ahead, and were thrilled to settle them into a small semi on a quiet street.

 

“I really feel as if everyone worked together for us on this one. They were all really great.”

 

As they look forward now to moving on again, things can only get even better.

 

“ This house was one big improvement on what we had before, but the new one is going to have a driveway and it’s in a cul-de-sac which is going to be so much easier for the chair. Plus, it’s only two minutes from the shopping centre.” A thought Michelle is more than looking forward to!

 

Speaking to David, it’s clear that sometimes you just can’t take the military out of the man.

He’s a hard taskmaster, used to expecting the same high standards he gives. Coming to terms with physical ill health and mental strain has been difficult. Ever “a grafter” he admits it was difficult at times to seek help, and he wasn’t always that confident he would get anywhere.  Having gone through it now though, he’s got no hesitation in recommending the various organisations mentioned.

 

“I know things are easier for those coming out the army now, but there’s still a lot of guys from my day who probably still don’t have a clue. I would say them, – ok we should have got it when we left- but at least there is some decent help out there.”

 

Update in 2016 –

Sadly, Michelle passed away on 14th February 2015 after being diagnosed with another brain tumour, which was incurable.

The Housing Options Scotland team would like to send our sincere condolences to the family.  We would also like to thank them for letting us continue to share their story here.