Edinburgh veteran Fraser Rowland to travel to Veteran Games in Israel

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A former Scots Guard from Edinburgh will make the 3,500 mile journey to Israel today to compete in the international Veteran Games.

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Fraser Rowland, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, turned his focus to exercise after he left the army in 2013 and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The 41-year-old from Granton will now join 65 other veterans from across the UK to take part in the international competition in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem next week. His wife Susan will be travelling with him.

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Fraser Rowland is competing in the Veteran GamesFraser Rowland is competing in the Veteran Games
Fraser Rowland is competing in the Veteran Games

“I didn’t realise I had PTSD until several years afterward but I think it had always been there,” said Fraser, a father-of-five. “I lost three close friends in Afghanistan. It’s hard to describe what it was like out there but you just had to get on with doing the job.

“When I left, I found it hard to settle down to a civilian job. In the Army you’re part of a big team, and you lose that when you leave. It was only through sitting down with different organisations that I was able to start working through it.”

The former Lance Corporal, who now works in Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory, said he was “really excited” about the opportunity to take part in the Veteran Games, which will see him compete with other former servicemen and women in a range of sports.

Charlie Pelling, manager of Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory, said: “We’re delighted that Fraser has been selected to compete and wish him the best of luck.

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“The Veteran Games is a wonderful initiative that recognises the important role of sport and comradeship in supporting veterans’ physical and mental health. This is an opportunity to highlight the resilience of our Armed Forces community and raise awareness of issues facing them and their families.”

The first event of its kind, the Veteran Games and Conference is funded entirely by philanthropic donations, with Poppyscotland and Legion Scotland providing support with travel expenses for five Scottish competitors.

Events will be held at Beit Halochem’s pioneering state-of-the-art facilities, which offers rehabilitation, sports and recreation centres and lifelong care for disabled veterans and their families in Israel. The conference will see internationally renowned academics and mental health experts from both countries meet to discuss veterans’ health, recovery, and welfare issues.

Launching the event, Leo Docherty MP, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, said: "Sport is an integral part of the rehabilitation and recovery journey for wounded veterans. The 2022 Veteran Games highlights how sport can provide amazing opportunities for veterans across the globe to connect, over shared experiences.

“I wish good luck to all the athletes in this year's games and thank charities across the UK for their continued dedication and support for our disabled veterans."