Medically-discharged Royal Navy veteran from Portsmouth 'gets his wings again' after getting help to find a new job

A ROYAL Navy veteran who was medically discharged from the Senior Service said he was able to ‘find his wings again’ after a forces charity helped him bag his ‘dream job’.

Iraq War veteran Darren Garnett was forced to leave the Royal Navy in 2020 just before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The Portsmouth-based sailor admitted he struggled to cope after losing his job and began to sink into depression, with his low moods ‘lasting longer and longer’.

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Iraq War veteran Darren Garnett was forced to leave the Royal Navy in 2020 just before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

At rock bottom, his GP directed him to The Poppy Factory, which was running one of three employment trial schemes with the NHS in Portsmouth.

The charity helped Darren to find his new ‘dream job’ working as an instructor at the Royal Naval Leadership Academy near Portsmouth.

Now Darren and the Poppy Factory have launched a joint appeal urging more NHS staff to help more ex-forces patients transform their lives through employment.

Darren, who joined the navy at 26 as a mechanic, said: ‘Being unemployed affected my confidence. I’d see jobs and think I wasn’t good enough to apply.

Royal Navy veteran Darren Garnett was given help to find a new job after being medically discharged in 2020

‘The minute I met my employment consultant, Lisa, that all changed. Lisa gave me wings. She encouraged me to apply for jobs that I was interested in.

‘She helped me prepare, we’d talk through everything, and I knew she was only a phone call away if I needed support.’

The Poppy Factory has helped more than 100 veterans in the first year of the pilots, with 45 finding work so far. The NHS funds its employment consultants to deliver employment support for veterans with health conditions in Portsmouth, Plymouth, Cheshire and Wirral.

Deirdre Mills, chief executive of The Poppy Factory, said: ‘Connecting with NHS partners has helped us reach many veterans who would not otherwise have found our employment service.’

Dr Mahdi Ghomi, mental health professional lead psychologist and clinical director of veteran services at Solent NHS Trust, said: ‘We are extremely proud to be working in partnership with Poppy Factory to support our veterans with suitable employment.

‘We know our veterans have so much to offer our communities and finding a role that helps them transfer their skills is such an important part of their transition into civilian life and their recovery journey.’