Former Army Corporal with PTSD now studying for a Degree

Andrew McAtee is a former Substantive Corporal in the Army. He joined in 1994 and left in 2016 after 22 years’ service, starting his career with the Royal Irish Regiment for 14 years, transferring to The Rifles in 2009, then moving to Preston for the final two years to 3 Medical Regiment. Andrew was medically discharged and was deemed unfit to work, due to a shoulder injury sustained in Afghanistan and PTSD and is currently studying for a degree at Salford University.

After 22 years in the Army, Andrew has a number of achievements he his is proud of. “Two tours of Afghanistan, from a soldier's point of view were very good - the downside was obviously the casualties that went with that. Being an instructor at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate was very rewarding job - a lot of the people I taught have went on to do some really great things.”

The 44-year-old was medically discharged for a shoulder injury, which he has received reconstruction surgery for. He sustained the injury on Herrick 10 in Afghanistan in 2009 during a firefight with the Taliban. The injury was minor but gradually got worse. Andrew said: “I have a range of other problems - PTSD being the main one now. I have hearing loss and have recently been diagnosed with a minor frontal lobe brain injury - Executive Dysfunction Syndrome, which is possibly linked to PTSD.

“I was due to leave in 2014 because of the injuries, but I had a final medical board and they diagnosed me with PTSD. So I was extended in Service to 2016, where I had more shoulder surgery and ongoing PTSD treatments. I had 48 plus sessions at Departments of Community Mental Health centre in Catterick and have now transferred on to the Military Veteran Programme through the NHS in the North West.” Andrew said the Army classed him as being unemployable when he left, so he has struggled to find suitable employment. However, thanks to Andrew’s Brigade Welfare Officer, CTP Assist services and a number of charities, Andrew has been able to take advantage of a range of services available to him and has been able to take many positives away from his difficult military transition and now has a really good support network.

“The three-day transition workshop the CTP run was very good and I have since completed further courses with the CTP up at Catterick and they have been great and well-run. Because I am unable to go into work, I took up the degree offer at Salford University, studying International Politics and Security, which the military is paying for,” said Andrew.

Once you leave, it is all about accessing the right support for what you need.
— Andrew

The father-of-two has found it difficult financially but The Veterans’ Agency assisted Andrew to receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and his wife has been incredibly supportive, facilitating him going to university. He added: “But we have nobody to support us, we have no family here in the North West. But don’t get me wrong, I am loving being at home with the kids - but my issues do impact on family life.”

Andrew is full of praise for the charities he has received help from, including Help for Heroes, The Royal British Legion, Veterans in Community and Dig In. “The Royal British Legion have been fantastic. They took us away for a holiday to Southport - we had not been on holiday for a long time due to ill health. Veterans in Community (VIC) based in the North-West have been great and have been very supportive in getting me out on the hills doing hill walking and the support network in Salford University is great as Dr Celia Hynes, who works at the University, is also an Armed Forces Champion.”

Andrew said Veterans’ Gateway is an excellent idea and just what Service Leavers need. He added: “Once you leave, it is all about accessing the right support for what you need and I think Veterans’ Gateway will help with that and make the whole process less confusing and more easily accessible.”

To find out more about Veterans' Gateway click here.