Caring for the hidden wounded
Tom Stimpson MBE spoke at The Freemasons’ Grand Charity’s General Meeting about the help he has received in overcoming the psychological effects of warfare
Highlights at the Grand Charity’s General Meeting held last November included the approval of £745,000 of grants to non-masonic charities, bringing the total of such grants approved in 2013 to more than £2.4 million. Another highlight was the ongoing support for service personnel.
Among the guests was RAF veteran and Freemason, Tom Stimpson MBE. Tom spoke on behalf of Help for Heroes, a charity that provides wounded veterans with welfare support, life-skills courses, sports facilities, education and training – and gave him ‘lifesaving’ support after he was medically discharged from the RAF. Since 2008, the Grand Charity has donated £72,570 to Help for Heroes, with many lodges raising additional funds.
Tom’s traumatic experiences of war while in service in Iraq and Afghanistan left him both physically and mentally wounded. When describing his return home from Iraq, his wife said that he ‘left as a husband and father, and came back a stranger’. With the support of the RAF and Ministry of Defence, friends and family, Help for Heroes and his masonic brethren, Tom has come back from what he says was the ‘lowest point’ in his life.
Tom emphasised that his story is not an isolated one – thousands of active service men and women are affected by post-traumatic stress disorder. Sadly, many veterans cannot face the despair their traumas have caused; according to the BBC’s Panorama, fifty service personnel committed suicide in 2012 in the UK alone. Tom’s closing message to the meeting was: ‘We may be leaving Afghanistan in 2014, but the effects of war will remain with so many for many more years to come. Please continue to support them and Help for Heroes.’