Catching Up With Our First Fareham Veteran
Dawn, our Hampshire Homes for Veterans Team Leader had a surprise visitor last week - Jason, our first resident in our Fareham home popped in to say hello! It's been over four years since we first meet Jason, and more than two since he left us. He tells us that his life is transformed from those dark days before he came to our home and today he is happier than ever.
Here is Jason's story........
My name is Jason and this is my story of how Alabaré’s Hampshire Homes for Veterans helped me.
I joined the 2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment in 2002 and served for 9 ½ years, during which time I took part in three tours of duty; to Iraq, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. I was also able to spend 6 ½ years of my years training and serving as a Combat Medic and Assault Pioneer, time I really enjoyed, and I felt a really valued part of my team.
When I returned home from Afghanistan, things weren’t good with my wife, and our relationship was at a really low point. She gave me an ultimatum – either I leave the Army and try and sort our marriage out, or she would leave me. So I did what I thought was right and in February 2011 I left the Forces.
Unfortunately, it seemed that our marriage couldn’t be saved and I ended up leaving our home. At first I went back to my parents, but within a couple of weeks we were arguing and it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to stay longer. With no other immediate options, I was forced to live on the streets for the next three weeks. Thankfully friends came to my aid, and I was able to sleep on their sofas for a couple of months – far from ideal, but at least I wasn’t sleeping rough. My life felt like it had reached rock bottom; I was in debt from my marriage breakup, and I had started drinking quite heavily to stop myself having to think about the crisis I was living in.
I went to the Council, but I didn’t fit with their criteria for emergency housing. They gave me two options; move into a hostel, or get in touch with Alabaré’s Homes for Veterans. The second sounded miles better, so the next morning I gave Alabaré a call, and was quickly fixed up with a meeting with Dawn and Ernie. It turned out that there was a new home opening in Fareham, and I fitted the referral criteria. I was delighted to be one of the first residents to move in.
The home was fantastic, and so was the support. Ernie was ex-Military himself, so instantly knew where I was coming from. Dawn was brilliant too, and my co-residents were all from the Forces so we had that common bond. We shared the house hold chores between us and each took turns to cook – I had been a chef in the past, so I was quite popular when it came to meal times!
I spent just about two years in the home, during which time Dawn and Ernie supported me to get my life back on track. Together they helped me contact The RBL who enabled me to clear my debts, and I got a place on the Warrior Programme which really helped me gain my self-confidence again. I patched up things with my parents and I dealt with my drinking though my local GP. The guys in the house helped me maintain my abstinence from alcohol and I was even able to get a job as a supervisor in a local pub without having any problems at all!
It's over two years now since I left Alabaré’s home and moved in with my girlfriend in Gosport. We are still together and life is really looking up. I’ve had a couple of really good jobs since I left the house, and am currently working as an engineer in the town. My girlfriend and I are hoping to buy her house together next, and give ourselves some real stability for the future.
In terms of the military, I loved my career, and my next ambition is to reenlist in the Reserves – in fact I am filling in the form now! I can’t wait to get involved again. Alabaré’s Hampshire Homes for Veterans has provided fantastic support for me, and was brilliant at helping me get my life back on track. With my determination and their support, I am in a really happy place right now and looking forward to a bright future.