Royal Navy veteran Chris meets Camilla to mark his comeback from PTSD

Chris O'Donnell meets HRH The Duchess of Cornwall Picture: Ian Jones
Chris O'Donnell meets HRH The Duchess of Cornwall Picture: Ian Jones
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A VETERAN who developed PTSD after serving in the Royal Navy has thanked a charity that helped him get his life back on track.

Chris O’Donnell, from Bishop’s Waltham, was among those invited to a reception hosted by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House in celebration of the 1,000 wounded, injured and sick veterans who have been supported by The Poppy Factory’s Getting You Back to Work programme since 2010.

Mr O’Donnell received the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct during his time in the navy, but said: ‘I didn’t feel like I deserved it, as my act of bravery was overshadowed by an empty feeling of failure. I was young and I had never seen a dead body before or even attended a funeral. I remember pulling dead bodies from the sea and the one that I left behind haunted me. After leaving the navy, I started to wonder whether I had made the right decision, and although I did not know it at the time, I was suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder.’

After receiving some treatment in Chicago which did not make matters better, Mr O’Donnell was referred to the Veterans’ Hospital in the UK and was introduced to Rachel, a Poppy Factory worker who supported him. 

He added: ‘Now I am in a job as a quality assurance engineer at Siemens in London. I enjoy it and I feel like I am giving to society rather than taking. I can’t thank the Poppy Factory enough for the help and support they have given me. They opened my eyes up to what I can do and not what I can’t do.’

The Poppy Factory has been employing wounded, injured and sick veterans in their factory making Remembrance products for the Poppy Appeal since 1922 and in 2010 started a programme to support veterans in their own communities get into jobs they want to do and estimates that there are about 20,000 wounded, sick and injured veterans of working age in the UK who are struggling to get back into work after leaving the forces. 

To find out about the Getting You Back to Work programme visit www.poppyfactory.org, email gybtw@poppyfactory.org or call 020 8939 1837.​​​​​​​