As fewer people plan to donate this winter due to the cost-of-living crisis, the charity has launched ‘The Greatest Gift’ campaign, encouraging the public to give one simple free thing this Christmas – the gift of words.
Chris Jones, 49, badly damaged his leg during military exercises which put an end to his career with the Army Air Corps and left him feeling isolated.
He said: ‘Being a soldier was my whole life, suddenly my life as I knew it was over as I was no longer of use. I remember watching the news coverage of Afghanistan and Iraq.
‘It made me feel like a failure. I wasn’t out there doing the job I’d signed up to do.
‘It was incredibly difficult to deal with.
‘A colleague in my civilian job put me in touch with Help for Heroes.
‘Scared I’d be turned away, it took me a few months to reach out.
‘But I did get in touch, the charity welcomed me with open arms and offered me support for life.
Chris, who now lives in Ivybridge, added: ‘When it comes to loneliness, I’m starting to make a few friends. But Christmas remains a difficult time. There have been years I haven’t bothered putting decorations up.
‘But one year Help for Heroes sent me a Christmas card. Little things like that make me smile.
‘It’s a comfort to know someone gave their time and thought to send a card.’
A recent YouGov survey showed 70,000 veterans are lonely all the time*, and as others are having fun with those they love, the pain of missing out deepens.
By gathering these messages, Help for Heroes will show veterans that they are not alone this Christmas, and that practical support is available.
► To leave a message of support to veterans across the country this Christmas visit helpforheroes.celebrationpage.org/greatestgift
► Help for Heroes champions the Armed Forces community and helps them live well after service. To learnmore visit helpforheroes.org.uk
* Research conducted by YouGov Plc into mental health and suicide in the GB adult population and the Armed Forces Community.
July 2022, total sample size of 8346 adults, 455 of which had previously served in the UK Armed Forces.