Russian war fears: veteran breaks world record of 200 marathons for soldiers | United Kingdom | News

Paul Minter founded his charity Head Up after witnessing the horrific issues faced by soldiers and veterans – in particular, the struggle with mental health they face after leaving the armed forces. After serving for 17 years, including five tours in Afghanistan, Mr Minter warned that the Covid pandemic has left veterans feeling even more alone than before, and widespread reports of rising tensions in Ukraine are only make matters worse.

He is tackling a world record run around the UK, equivalent to nearly 200 marathons, to raise money to help them deal with their ‘mental injury’.

He told Express.co.uk: ‘Suicides in the military and especially among veterans are increasing, not slowing down. They need help now.

“I’ve been blown up twice and shot thousands of times. I saw my friends next to me, burning alive, and all sorts of horrible things.

“At the time, I was doing very well, because as a young soldier you have your friends around you. You kind of know what war is, and you’re built to know that things can happen and that’s fine.

“But what we’re not taught is that later in life, we notice certain sounds, smells, feelings and emotions that will start to trigger those memories. They’re here forever and ever, and it’s only a matter of time.

Mr Minter shared that he experienced extreme paranoia and struggled to feel safe in many public settings.

Loneliness is widespread among veterans, and Mr Minter argues that current services could be improved – as former soldiers often re-enter military circles. He says priority is given to those who have seen trauma deemed significant enough – by then it is often too late.

He added that the growing fear around a Russian invasion of Ukraine was proving difficult for veterans in the UK.

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Mr Minter said: “A possible outbreak of war brings back all those emotions. You can see the desperation on the faces of Ukrainians and it’s a reminder of what it would be like for families in Afghanistan, with villagers desperate to get on with their lives, feeling almost hopeless.

“You just have to see the big guns, the tanks and the people, and it brings everything back.”

Although mental health support is available for veterans, Minter argued he was nowhere near solving the problem.

He said: ‘A lot of veterans leave the military and are put on these 18 month or two year NHS waiting lists. When they’re finally seen, they get something like one interview a month, where they’re not able to get into it at all. Or is it in a military camp, and you have to go there in uniform, and how are you supposed to talk about your military trauma in that context? »

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Mr. Minter is aiming to set a new world record to help his charity’s fundraising campaign. He will cover 5,000 miles in 218 days, the equivalent of 191 marathons. The race will take place along the entire coast of the UK.

Head Up provides non-military mental health support to soldiers and veterans, and is currently campaigning to raise £3million to create a pension for veterans and serving soldiers. They have raised £300,000 so far.

He added: “A lot of people in the armed forces, they are strong. They are very proud. When our retreats open, hopefully in September 2023, we don’t care where they are mentally. We don’t mind if you’re on your last straw, about to kill yourself, or just want to learn ways to better improve your mental health before you get to that state.

You can donate to Head Up’s fundraiser at: www.justgiving.com/campaign/headupcharity