A FORMER army nurse from Edinburgh – who has overcome MS and injury – is now reaching out to help other wounded, injured and sick veterans with charity Help for Heroes.
Mary Wilson, 51, who was herself seriously injured during duty, is the first Help for Heroes – Band of Brothers and Sisters coordinator – for Scotland.
The charity provides lifelong support to those who have sustained injury during or attributable to army service.
Ms Wilson’s new role is to reach out to those wounded, injured and sick servicemen and veterans in Scotland and their families.
She said: “Help for Heroes was there for me when I needed them and my life was turned around. Sport and H4H has helped me regain focus, determination and enthusiasm for life and a passion for being in a team which I thought I had lost for good.
“I want to get people together where they can ask more about Help for Heroes and discuss any problems and concerns they have. I can give them advice there and then or direct them in the right direction, whether that’s grants, courses, housing or our Hidden Wounds programme.”
Ms Wilson joined the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps in 1993. During her 20 years in the army she reached the rank of sergeant and served in Germany, Woolwich, Gosport, Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Catterick and Belize. She was also in charge of the Field Mental Health team in Afghanistan for three months.
In 2000, Ms Wilson’s career was cut short after she was injured while based in Gosport, south Hampshire.
She attended a military horse riding course at St John’s Wood with the Royal Horse Artillery but was thrown from her horse, hitting a wall and breaking her cheek bone, two toes in her right foot and ripping her bicep muscle from her right shoulder.
After three operations, which left her with very limited arm movement, arthritis and constant pain, she was medically discharged in December 2012. She was also diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2004.
She said: “The loss of self-esteem, confidence and motivation was overwhelming and I felt I had been dumped on the rubbish pile.”
Ms Wilson, who was recommended for Mention in Dispatches for bravery while in Hong Kong in 1994, was awarded the MOD Peoples Award for Inspiration and the Burroughs Cup for Outstanding Contributions to Military Mental Health in 2012.
But she said when discharged, she felt abandoned by the military.
“I want to focus on getting better facilities for disabled people in Scotland,” said Ms Wilson.
She recently took part in the Cerebral Palsy World Games, which includes people with MS, in Nottingham and won two golds for shotput and discus. She has also set up a fortnightly drop-in centre at the Royal Scots Club in Edinburgh.