Brave Royal Navy veteran who contemplated suicide due to PTSD is 'excited' to be representing the UK in this year's Invictus Games

A BRAVE navy veteran from Gosport who almost died of an horrific infection and later contemplated suicide due to the PTSD he suffered, says he has got his ‘life back’ and is ‘excited’ to be representing the UK in this year’s Invictus Games.

Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 4:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 9:19 am

Dad-of-two Russell Hunt, 35, fell into a month-long coma after developing blood poisoning while deployed in South America back in 2005.

The infection left him with muscle damage in both legs and it took him months to learn to walk again.

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Russell Hunt who was injured after suffering blood poisoning in the navy in 2005 has been selected to compete in this year s Invictus Games. Pictured: Russell Hunt near his home in Gosport on Monday 11th April 2022 Picture: Habibur Rahman

More than 15 years later he still relies on splints to walk, and occasionally a walking stick.

At the time navy doctors said he had recovered, but in 2010 Russell was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder as well as anxiety and depression, which only got worse.

The former Leading Hand told The News: ‘At my lowest I didn’t really feel like myself. I could be angry, short-tempered, I didn’t want to do anything or go anywhere or see anyone. The only way I could cope was by drinking.

‘There were some dark times I thought about taking my own life and ending it all.

Russel Hunt, from Gosport, training for the 2022 Invictus Games

‘It was very hard for my family to watch. I didn’t understand it and they didn’t either.

In 2018, a few years after leaving the navy and finding a new job at BAE Systems, Russell approached the Help for Heroes’ Hidden Wounds team for support with his mental health.

He went through some courses with the Hidden Wounds team, and they pointed out some of the other things Help for Heroes does - one of them being the Invictus Games. During the 2019 Invictus Game trials in Sheffield, Russell won gold in the wheelchair rugby team and bronze in cycling and was selected to go further.

Reflecting on his journey with Hidden Wounds he said: ‘It potentially did save my life. While I never went through with it the times I considered suicide, that’s not to say the next time I wouldn’t have.

Russell Hunt who was injured after suffering blood poisoning in the navy in 2005 has been selected to compete in this year s Invictus Games. Pictured: Russell Hunt near his home in Gosport on Monday 11th April 2022 Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘From there it’s helped me no end. I have my confidence back, I’m able to speak to people again. It’s given me my life back.

‘I made lots of new friends including people who I will keep in contact with for a long time afterwards. It’s like a family. We’re all in similar positions – we have a unique ability to understand each other when maybe other people can’t.

‘I would absolutely tell other people in a similar situation to me to get in touch with them.’

Russell was due to appear at the games in 2020, however, the Covid-19 pandemic meant they were postponed until April 16 this year.

Russel Hunt, from Gosport, training for the 2022 Invictus Games

He will travel with his wife Hayley, 35, and sons Logan, 16, and Reid, 18 months, to The Hague in the Netherlands where they will watch him compete in wheelchair rugby, rowing and cycling.

Russell added: ‘It’s been a long time coming so it is exciting that it’s finally happened.

‘I’m hoping for some personal bests in the rowing and cycling. Medals would be nice but it’s just about being there and the whole process.’

To find out more about Hidden Wounds visit helpforheroes.org.uk/get-support/mental-health-and-wellbeing/hidden-wounds-service.

Team UK in the games – presented by BAE Systems – will compete in nine sports: athletics, archery, wheelchair basketball, cycling, powerlifting, indoor rowing, wheelchair rugby, swimming and sitting volleyball.

Russel Hunt, from Gosport, training for the 2022 Invictus Games