Nine military veterans suffering from PTSD undertook a challenge to drive from the south coast of England to the Sahara Desert in Citroen Berlingos worth no more than £350 each.
Hayley Hammond, from Forces Radio BFBS, spoke to the Founder and Director of Driven to Extremes, former Royal Air Force pilot Mac MacKenny, while the team fixed up their vehicles in Gibraltar before heading to Morocco.
The challenge was organised by Driven to Extremes, a charitable organisation supporting veterans with PTSD by taking them on vehicle adventures and expeditions.
“By putting this together, they’ve got a clear, almost military objective. There’s a very clear goal… and I don’t think any of them are sitting there thinking about their PTSD problems and what they’ve been through.”
Despite having limited experience with vehicles, the veterans had to drive and maintain the cars themselves over the gruelling 1000 mile journey. The team had to deal with everything from problems with brakes, multiple jump starts, changing entire rear axles to digging out their Berlingos when they got stuck in the sand.
Emily Loxton, from Forces Radio BFBS, met up with the team again in Gibraltar on their return journey. She spoke to former Royal Marine and Military Cross holder Matt Bispham, about how the experience has helped him with his PTSD recovery.
“It’s been like a defibrillator for me, it’s helped me get back, therapy doesn’t work and this is a different form of therapy completely. It’s definitely helping with my personal situation.”
Matt was sent to Afghanistan just three weeks after completing his training and was awarded the Military Cross after he carried out a dangerous assault with his colleague, Marine Thomas Curry when they came under fire from Taliban fighters.
Marine Curry was shot and killed before Matt killed both attackers in close combat.
During the Driven to Extremes expedition, the veterans were hosted by dignitaries such as the British Ambassador to Morocco and the Governor of Gibraltar, Lieutenant General Edward Davis, CB, CBE.
Former Royal Engineer, Jason Smith, described how overwhelming the experience has been:
“I’m hoping that this journey, this expedition, this challenge, will have improved my chances of having a PTSD free life.”
Want to find out more about Driven to Extremes or know someone who may benefit from the work they do? www.maxadventure.co.uk