A Hemel Hempstead veteran has proudly served his country again, this time in a major sporting event in America for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.
Steve Johnston, who was selected by the military charity Help for Heroes, represented the UK at the recent Department of Defense Warrior Games 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA.
The 59-year-old competed in cycling, indoor rowing and swimming.
The event took place between Friday, June 1, until Saturday, June 9, where around 265 service members and veterans represented teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and US Special Operations Command, as well as the UK Armed Forces, Canadian Forces and the Australian Defence Force.
The UK team, which was supported and delivered by Help for Heroes, took part in nine adaptive sports: athletics, archery, cycling, indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, shooting, swimming, powerlifting and wheelchair basketball.
Steve, who served in the RAF, came eighth in the 50m freestyle 6.0 swimming; 20th in the one-minute sprint race 6.0 swimming; 24th in the four-minute endurance race 6.0 swimming; 24th in the upright cycle C6; and 25th in the upright cycle C6 time trial.
He has complex PTSD relating back to his time caught up in the siege of Sarajevo in 1995 in the Bosnian War.
He had issues of avoidance, lack of motivation, hypervigilance, low moods and a poor diet. Steve said: “It was fantastic that I was selected for the Warrior Games.
“My recovery started in January 2017 when I received an email to compete in Help for Heroes’ Big Battlefield Bikeride. It got me out of my bed and started to give me a meaning in life.
“The Invictus Games trials were then instrumental in keeping my recovery going, so selection for The Warrior Games is another massive hurdle I have jumped.
“I am extremely grateful. Five miles into a cycle and I’m ‘in the zone’.
“I forget all my issues and problems; just focusing on the task ahead. Pushing myself into every hill and taking the aggression out on the road.”
Steve Schollar, head of recovery for the East and the Midlands at Help for Heroes, said: “We know how important sport is as part of an individual’s recovery.
“Not only does it help physically but sport empowers veterans and provides huge psychological benefits too; including improving self-confidence and self-esteem.
“The Warrior Games provided the opportunity for these men and women to proudly serve their country again and have a second chance at life.
“Through the Games they get to experience being part of a team again, something the military often miss after suffering a life-changing injury or illness.”