Civvy Life – Richard Gamble

Former Lance Corporal, Richard Gamble, Served in the Royal Engineers for nine years until he was medically discharged in 2015. The 27 year-old credits sport and the Invictus Games in assisting his ongoing recovery journey.

How does your injury affect you?

I was diagnosed with a condition called compartment syndrome; I had surgery on both legs. A year later I was diagnosed with a rare condition called popliteal artery entrapment syndrome. Basically it causes is a lot of numbness, and a constant sort of pressure build-up and pain in both legs. I’ve had six operations because of it, on both legs, and I still struggle every day. That also brought a lot of mental issues on for me.

How was your resettlement?

My medical discharge was quite a quick process, I didn’t know I was getting discharged; I walked into an office and lost my job there and then. I didn’t have time to sort any resettlement or attachments out, it was a bit of a shame really. (I saw Civvy Street Magazine) when I was going through my discharge process and I got referred to the Personnel Recovery Unit, it was in the recovery offices and places like Help for Heroes; you’d see them scattered around.

How did you become involved with the Invictus Games?

My mental health suffered a huge decline. I’d struggle day-to-day with physical pain and I’d lost my career really quickly. I don’t think I’ve quite come to terms with losing that yet.

I had a period where I had to take six-weeks off work, then I came to Tedworth House Help for Heroes Recovery Centre, for a bit of psychiatric support, and just to talk to people. They said, ‘What about sports recovery?’ I told them that I was a, Tri-Service swimmer, and they said, ‘Look, the Invictus Games open day is soon’, and that’s basically how I got involved. They pointed me in the right direction, and they’ve done a world of good for me.

Tell us about the Games experience…

The Games are brilliant, the whole build-up process and meeting other Veterans who are all going through the same sort of thing. That bond brought out a lot of confidence in me that I’d lost. You train with these people and the team atmosphere is brilliant. Everybody was rooting for each other, it was an awesome experience to go and represent your country and be part of something meaningful. That was the big part for me.

I swam 50m front crawl, 100m backstroke, 50m backstroke, and the relay as well. I got bronze in the 50m backstroke, and we got silver in the relay.

I didn’t swim for three years when I got injured, so my times have never been as quick as they used to be, but I set myself goals; I went out to achieve and I did it.

How does this experience change things for you?

It was definitely a huge confidence boost. Prior to the Games I had umpteen operations and I had no focus, I was a bit down in the dumps; then competing in the Invictus Games and coming back… I know that I can still go on and achieve, it’s a very empowering thing to do.

More:

Team UK is delivered through a partnership of Help for Heroes, the MoD and The Royal British Legion.

www.helpforheroes.org.uk
www.britishlegion.org.uk
www.invictusgamesfoundation.org

Civvy Street Magazine would like to thank Help for Heroes for their support with this article.

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