Dean Graham, a 37 year old father and a former Corporal in the Royal Logistics Corps, developed a painful joint condition that affected his back while serving. He was medically discharged in 2014 after 15 years of service.
Dean’s condition – ankylosing spondylitis, or AS – is a form of arthritis that causes inflammation of the spine and can lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort. It made life very difficult for Dean as he tried to get to grips with life outside the Army.
Dean said: “The first thing on my mind when I left the Army was that I needed some money, and I found a job in London driving heavy goods vehicles. I worked for several different companies and an agency before deciding it wasn’t for me.
I’d had enough of London, it was very stressful, fast paced. It felt like going at 100mph all the time and it was only making my condition worse.
“Being a HGV driver, I was driving for long hours – up to four hours at a time – and was away for long periods, which often meant sleeping, or at least trying to, in the cab of my truck.
“I needed to move and the first thing on my mind is that I should be nearer my children. They lived in Torquay with their mother and I thought it would be good for them, as well as me, to be closer to them.”
With his situation getting worse, Dean was encouraged to seek help by his father, a fellow veteran who had found work with support from The Poppy Factory.
Dean was soon put in touch with Farrah, one of The Poppy Factory’s Employability Consultants, who helped him build his confidence and apply for a Category D licence to drive coaches. After Dean’s father retired from his job at Robinson’s Holidays as a coach driver, Dean successfully applied for the role, which is much better suited to his health condition.
Dean said: “I really wouldn’t be where I am right now without The Poppy Factory. My new job hasn’t been so physically demanding and in terms of the mental stress, it’s really helped me out. I’m really happy that The Poppy Factory has helped me get into this position.”
If you are a veteran with a health condition or know someone who is, The Poppy Factory is there to support in any way that we can. To register for our unique service click here