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Tony's story

“Growing up, alcohol was constantly around me. My parents were both big alcohol drinkers so this was my ‘normal’.

“It’s difficult for me to talk about my past and childhood. However, I learnt over time that alcohol helped numb my thoughts and feelings around this.

“My father was in the Royal Navy and I followed his footsteps, joining as a gunner and seaman in 1980.

“I enjoyed my time in the Navy touring six months around the Caribbean preventing drug smuggling, then touring Lebanon. My time traveling in the Navy allowed me to feel free and proud, and I finally felt I belonged.

Returning to Civvy Street

“I married and had a son in 1987 which cemented my decision to leave the Navy. I felt I wanted to be fully involved in my son's life.

“When returning to Civvy Street I don’t think I was fully prepared for civilian life. What I soon discovered was the trauma I had previously buried and ran away from resurfaced over and over again.

“Alcohol has always been a part of my life but I noticed I began using it more and more. I always felt it was being a man having a drink after work or when out with the lads.

“Over time my marriage broke down and I reverted to my old friend ‘Jack Daniels’ for comfort.

“Over time alcohol started to control me, but now I control alcohol”

– Tony

“I decided to join With You in 2019 and was given a Recovery Navigator, Kelly, who was also a veterans worker for With You for the Armed Forces (formally Right Turn).

“With patience and understanding, I learnt to trust and truly open up about my life.

“I decided that I did not want to continue this lifestyle so I was given one-to-one support to reduce my drinking safely and also to avoid relapsing.

Dealing with the past

“Kelly helped me to access the support I needed to deal with my past, which I had kept buried for so long.

“The relationship I was in sadly ended and I found myself isolated, alone and living in shared accommodation with younger people, which really affected my mental health and morale.

“I worked with With You for the Armed Forces Community who supported me, with the Royal British Legion and Beyond Housing, to get my own secure accommodation. I now have a fully furnished flat and I am secure and safe

“Over time alcohol started to control me, but now I control alcohol. I have rebuilt relationships with my children, I have full time employment and I have friends and enjoy sports and recreational activities.

“I feel that With You for the Armed Forces Community held out their hand to help lift me up and it was down to me to reach out and hold it. I am so glad I did.”

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