World

Meet The Former Royal Marine Guiding Journalists Through War Zones

Garry Curtis served for nine years in the military and uses his experience in close protection to guide the media through war zones.

For many reading at home, the latest news and from war zones are available at the click of a button.

However, for those reporting from the most dangerous parts of the world, protection is required.

Ex-Royal Marine Commando Garry Curtis is one of few with the experience and trust to escort the media through dangerous parts of the world to tell the stories that need to be told.

Garry served on deployments around the globe during his nine years in the military and since 2007 has used his experience in close protection to guide journalists through war zones.

"Looking after the media was what I loved doing because you're not in a big team," he says.

"The job there is like a role reversal from the close protection work that we're doing.

"When things were kicking off, your job is to get them out of trouble or away from trouble.

"Whereas when you're working with the media, you're getting the people into trouble.

"You're taking them down on to the frontline, you're taking them into a firefight as such," he says.

Some of the locations he has escorted members of the media to include Donetsk, Mosul, and Libya - where Garry was held hostage in 2011.

"A load of Gaddafi troops came up behind us and we were held against our will in a hotel in Tripoli for five days," he said.

Garry Curtis in war zone

Although his work involves regular concern for his life and those of his crew, making the transition to back to home life proved to be the real challenge for Garry. He says:

"My problem is back here in the world... I feel like a sheep, I feel like a robot over here.

"I see someone, an adult, push that button at the side of the road to cross the road, and I'm like, 'Why have you done that. Why have you just pushed that button to cross a road?'.

"How do you tell people about a VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) going off just down the road in front of you? Or what you perceive to be a suicide bomber that's just pulled up in just front of you?" he adds.

Garry says that after losing his girlfriend and nearly losing his house that he suffered from depression and even contemplated taking his own life.

"I decided that I'd be better off no longer here," he says.

Garry Curtis 030119 CREDIT BFBS

One year on from his suicide attempt, Garry published a book titled 'Incoming!' to detail his journey, but also to try and break down the negative connotations surrounding mental health within the veteran community.

"I wrote the book because of what became my perfect storm.

"Even just a couple days later, I was thinking, 'Well, how did Garry Curtis break, what was all that about?'" he said.

Garry continues to work in hostile environments, soon travelling to Mosul once again.

Back home, though, he looks forward to spreading the message that psychological challenges can appear anywhere, not just where we would expect them.

"Some people want to chase war and think it's glorious.

"Yeah it's exciting, yeah it's lively'," he says.

"Yes, you're not going to get that feeling back here. But it's scary. It's real."

If you are struggling with your mental health, you can contact Samaritans any time on 116 123 or the Military Mental Health Helpline can be called on 0800 323 4444.